SANTIAGO, Chile — Pope Francis flew in to Chile’s capital Monday night for a visit expected to be met with protests over sexual abuse by priests and confronted by many Chileans deeply skeptical about the Roman Catholic Church.

It’s the pope’s first visit to the Andean nation of 17 million people since taking the reins of the church in 2013. It comes at a time when many Chileans are furious over Francis’ 2015 decision to appoint a bishop close to the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who the Vatican found guilty in 2011 of abusing dozens of minors over decades.

The Rev. Juan Barros, bishop of the southern city of Osorno, has always denied he knew what Karadima was doing when he was the priest’s protege, a position that many Chileans have a hard time believing.

“It’s not just time for the pope to ask for forgiveness for the abuses but also to take action,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Karadima.

Cruz said that if it wasn’t possible to jail bad bishops, “at the very least they can be removed from their positions.”

Over the next three days, Francis is scheduled to celebrate Mass in Santiago, the southern city of Temuco and the northern city of Iquique. On Thursday, the pope will go to Peru for a three-day visit.

Francis’ trip was aimed at highlighting the plight of immigrants and indigenous peoples and underscoring the need to preserve the Amazon rain forest. However, sexual abuse by priests has been front and center in the weeks before his arrival.

Hours before Francis landed, activists on issues related to sex abuse by priests called for sanctions against both abusers and anyone who helped cover up their actions.

About 200 people attended the first of several activities aimed at making the sex abuse scandal a central topic of Francis’ time in the country.

The majority of Chileans continue to declare themselves Roman Catholics, but the church has lost the influence and moral authority it once enjoyed thanks to the scandals, secularization and an out-of-touch clerical caste.

“I used to be a strong believer and churchgoer,” said Blanca Carvucho, a 57-year-old secretary in Santiago. “All the contradictions have pushed me away.”

To be sure, many eagerly awaited a chance to see the pope and celebrate their faith.

Moises Lopez, a 35-year-old musician, took a bus from northern Chile to Santiago in hopes of seeing the pontiff.

“I consider myself a pilgrim,” Lopez said. “I could have stayed comfortably at home and watched the pope on television, but I prefer to make an effort to see him in person once in my life.”

The pope will try to inject new energy into the church during his visit, which gets underway in earnest Tuesday with a series of protocol visits for church and state.

He also plans sessions with migrants, members of Chile’s Mapuche indigenous group and victims of the 1973-1990 military dictatorship.

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