Pope Francis South America

Source: CNS video screenshot

Pope Francis has been quite busy this week visiting South America.

The Argentine-born pontiff visited Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay for a “homecoming” tour and championed the rights of the poor and the planet. The visit is Francis’ first trip abroad since his encyclical in which he loudly voiced his concern for the environment.

Francis said in Ecuador that he has come as “a witness of God’s mercy and of faith in Jesus Christ.” He stressed that “mercy and faith have shaped Latin American culture for centuries, contributed to democracy and improved the lives of millions of people,” Catholic News Service reports.

According to Francis, Christian values should motivate citizens to promote the full participation of all people in their nation’s social, political and economic life. This is vital especially for the poor to whom Latin American countries still owe a debt, Francis said in Ecuador.

During his July 5 – 12 trip the pope has met and will meet with government officials, hold large public Masses and visit the poor, the sick, the elderly, and prisoners. According to GMA News Online, Francis moved on to Bolivia on Wednesday, where he is expected to defend the rights of indigenous people and visit the Parmasola prison. In Paraguay he is expected to meet with several groups of social activists. All three countries are between 82 percent and 93 percent Catholic.

Francis will visit Cuba and the United States in September.

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