History’s first Latin American pope travelled to Spanish-speaking South America for the first time as pontiff on Sunday, bringing a message of solidarity with the region’s poor, who were expected to turn out in droves to welcome him.
Francis, known to some as “the pope of the poor”, chose to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay specifically because they are among the poorest and most marginal nations of a region that is home to 40% of the world’s Catholics. He is not scheduled to visit his homeland of Argentina, at least partly to avoid any entanglement in this year’s presidential election.
The pope’s plane landed in Quito, Ecuador, where thousands of people lined a motorcade route that would take the pope to the Vatican ambassador’s residence, where he was scheduled to stay for the first leg of a trip that ends on 13 July.
Pilgrims came from far and wide. A small group of Colombians set up tents at the former site of Quito’s airport, where the pope is due to say mass on Tuesday.