In July, Pope Francis made an apostolic visit to Latin America, visiting Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay in nine days. Below we are publishing highlights of the pope’s homilies and addresses, in which he speaks on the family, his own sinfulness, and the constant presence of Mary in our lives.
Ecuador: “Family is the nearest hospital”
The pope celebrated the first Mass of the trip at Samanes Park in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on July 6.
“Those who love know how to serve others. We learn this especially in the family, where we become servants out of love for one another. In the heart of the family, no one is rejected; all have the same value.
“The family is the nearest hospital; when a family member is ill, it is in the home that they are cared for as long as possible. The family is the first school for the young, the best home for the elderly. The family constitutes the best ‘social capital.’ It cannot be replaced by other institutions.”
Bolivia: “The logic of love”
In Bolivia, the Holy Father met with clergy, religious and seminarians on July 9 at the Coliseum of Don Bosco College in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
“Compassion is not about zapping, it is not about silencing pain, it is about the logic of love, of suffering with. A logic, a way of thinking and feeling, which is not grounded in fear but in the freedom born of love and of desire to put the good of others before all else. A logic born of not being afraid to draw near to the pain of our people. Even if often this means no more than standing at their side and praying with them.”
“One day Jesus saw us on the side of the road, wallowing in our own pain and misery, our indifference. Each one knows his or her past. He did not close his ear to our cries. He stopped, drew near and asked what he could do for us.”
“Saved from his many sins”
Pope Francis spoke to inmates at the Santa Cruz-Palmasola Rehabilitation Center in Santa Cruz de la Sierra on July 10, his last day in Bolivia
“You may be asking yourselves: ‘Who is this man standing before us?’ I would like to reply to that question with something absolutely certain about my own life. The man standing before you is a man who has experienced forgiveness. A man who was, and is, saved from his many sins. That is who I am. I don’t have much more to give you or to offer you, but I want to share with you what I do have and what I love. It is Jesus Christ, the mercy of the Father.”
Paraguay: “Never alone”
On the first full day in Paraguay, July 11, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Marian Shrine of Caacupé, Paraguay.
“Mary has always been in our hospitals, our schools and our homes. She has always sat at table in every home. She has always been part of the history of this country, making it a nation. Hers has been a discreet and silent presence, making itself felt through a statue, a holy card or a medal. Under the sign of the rosary, we know that we are never alone, that she always accompanies us.”
“Like Mary, you lived through many difficult situations which, in the eyes of the world, would seem to discredit all faith. Yet, like Mary, inspired and sustained by her example, you continued to believe, even ‘hoping against all hope’ (Rom 4:18). When all seemed to be falling apart, with Mary you said: ‘Let us not be afraid, the Lord is with us; he is with our people, with our families; let us do what he tells us.’”
“Nations of young people”
The pope held a press conference July 12 during his flight from Asunción, Paraguay, to Rome, Italy.
“The Latin American Church has a great wealth. She’s a young Church. … Her theology is rich, it’s searching. … I believe that this Church can offer us much.
“I’ll say one thing that really struck me. In all three countries, all three of them, along the streets there were mother and fathers with their children, showing their children. I’ve never seen so many children, so many.
“These new nations of young people strengthen us. As for the Church, a young Church with so many problems, this is the message I find: Don’t be afraid of this youth and freshness of the Church. She may also be a little disorganized, but with time she will be and will do us so much good.”