SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia (AP) — Here are the latest developments from Pope Francis’ trip to South America:
Greeted by shouts of “Long live the pope!,” Francis has entered the sanctuary of El Quinche for his final public event in Ecuador before departing for Bolivia.
The pope was received by a crowd that cheered, applauded and practically bathed his popemobile in rose petals.
Francis was presented with a bouquet of roses, one of the main cultivated products of the region. He then approached a statue of the virgin of El Quinche, pausing to pray.
The sanctuary, some 50 kms (32 miles) east of Quito, is where Pope Francis is speaking to some 6,500 priests and seminarians.
Pope Francis is visiting an Ecuadorean nursing home that is run by the Missionary Sisters of Charity, the religious order founded by Mother Teresa. More than a dozen nuns welcomed the pope and presented him with a white collar with blue tassels, the colors of the order.
The pope met with residents of the home and offered them blessings. Many of the residents are in wheelchairs.
The Quito home is for elderly who lack the resources to remain in their own homes or family members able to care for them.
Pope Francis has emerged from the nunciature in Quito where he spent the night. Hundreds who had been waiting for him are applauding and a children’s chorus is singing. Many people are throwing rose petals as the pope waves to them.
Along the route that Francis will take to visit an elderly home, thousands are lined up. After the visit to nursing home, Francis will meet with local clergy and then fly to Bolivia for the next leg of his trip.
The next stop on the pope’s South American tour is Bolivia. He’ll be heading there later today.
Before leaving Ecuador, in Quito he’ll met with elderly people and give a pep talk to local clergy.
Then he’ll head to Bolivia, where church-state tensions over everything from the environment to the role of the church in society are high on the agenda.
In La Paz, Pope Francis will be welcomed by Bolivian President Evo Morales, an Aymara Indian known for his anti-imperialist and socialist stands.
The stop in La Paz is being kept to four hours to spare the 78-year-old pope from the taxing 4,000-meter (13,120-foot) elevation. The rest of his Bolivian stay will be in Santa Cruz.
Francis and Morales have met on several occasions. The most recent meeting was in October when the president, a former coca farmer, participated in a Vatican summit of grassroots groups of indigenous and advocates for the poor who have been championed by Francis.
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