Today, Pope Francis sets on a homecoming tour to the Ecuadorean port of Guayaquil. Latin America’s first pontiff is to hold a mass, that is, predicted to draw more than 1 million participants. In this visit, the Pope brings to the people the message of mutual support and respect for the poor, and care for our ailing planet.
On his first day, the pope was able to land safely in Ecuador on Sunday. His trip itinerary includes a quick trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest and most populous city, to conduct a mass at the Shrine of the Divine Mercy, and a lunch with a Jesuit Community at the Colegio Javier.
Pope Francisco is said to be excited to be reunited with his old friend Rev. Francisco Cortes, a Jesuit affectionately acknowledged as “Padre Paquito.” The first Latin-American-born pope, then known as Rev. “Jorge Mario Bergoglio,” entrusted his seminarians to Rev. Cortes to during their study trips to Ecuador a few years ago.
In an interview published in The Associated Press, 90-year-old Rev. Cortes found it hard to believe that the humble Pope still recognized and even invited him to have lunch.
“I don’t know what to ask him,” said Cortes. “He said he wanted to see me and I’m amazed that he’s coming. For the first time, I have known a pope.”
This tour becomes the Pope’s second visit as pontiff in his home continent; the first time was in the year 2013 when he went to Brazil after elected as pope. During the week-long visit, the “pope of the poor” aims to highlight the crucial need to defend and look after the poor and protect Mother Earth from untoward exploitation. Also, he targets to inspire in furthering the communication in all sectors of the society.
On Sunday, after a 13-hour flight from Rome, the Pope’s plane landed at the Mariscal Sucre airport outside Ecuador’s capital. As he descended from the plane, the wind blowing off his skullcap and whipping his white robe, a parade of children clad in traditional costumes greeted the smiling Francis.
Francis delivered a short speech upon his arrival in front of President Rafael Correa and other South American dignitaries. He indicated some of the major highlights for his visit not only in Ecuador but also in Bolivia and Paraguay. The pope laid emphasis on the need to care for humanity’s most marginal, assure socially responsible cost-effective development, and protect the Earth from profit-at-all-cost improvement that he mentioned could threaten and compromise the poor the most.