Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Pope Francis is in Panama Wednesday for World Youth Day, where he will address a range of humanitarian issues like migration, corruption, violence and the role of women in society.
Panama has been preparing for the pope's visit for two years. The pontiff will visit for four days, highlighted by the Way of the Cross ceremony at Cinta Costera and a mass at the Metro Park in Panama City.
There are about 150,000 youth enrolled in World Youth Day, which is held every two or three years. This is the first time the event has been held in Central America.
"In the coming days, we will be witnesses of one of the most important global events that will be celebrated in our beautiful country, World Youth Day and the visit of Pope Francis," Panama President Juan Carlos Varela said, calling it "an opportunity to show the world the beauty of our land, the joy and nobility of the heart of our people."
The pope, a native of Argentina, will make 10 speeches in Panama in his native Spanish, which means he could improvise.
The visit comes as the Catholic church fends off more claims of sexual abuse by clergy members. Survivors Michael Rodriguez and Anthony Venegas, both from Costa Rica, said Latin American "machismo" culture justifies the abusers and makes it difficult for victims to come forward.
"In many towns people don't dare speak out against a priest because they see the priest as a representative of God," Rodriguez told CNN. "It's a way the pope can show the world that any victim abused ... by a priest -- be it from a big country or a small one -- has a voice before the pope."
On Friday, Pope Francis will take a 30-minute helicopter ride to a youth detention center in Pacora where he'll hear confessions from 200 inmates. Saturday, he'll visit the Good Samaritan Home, a center dedicated to helping HIV/AIDS patients who "lack the resources to live and cope with their illness." He'll also dedicate a newly renovated altar at a 400-year-old cathedral, meet with Central American bishops and lunch with children.
The last World Youth Day was held in Poland in 2016.