International News

Pope Ready to Visit South America

MEXICO CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis is expected to arrive July 6 in Ecuador, starting a three-country tour of his home continent, the Associated Press reported from Quito.

The trip, the pope’s second to South America since being elected in March, 2013, also would include stops in Bolivia and Paraguay, two fast-growing countries in recent years, but still among the poorest on the continent.

The pope is expected to spend two days in Ecuador, celebrating Mass July 7 in Quito and meeting with priests and seminarians the next day at the Our Lady of the Presentation of El Quinche shrine, 20 miles from Quito, Archbishop Luis Cabrera Herrera of Cuenca told the Associated Press.

Vatican officials normally do not announce the official itinerary for papal trips until closer to the time of the trip.

The Italian blog Il Sismografo, citing local news reports, said Pope Francis would fly July 8 to La Paz, Bolivia, where he would spend six hours and celebrate Mass in the neighboring city of El Alto – situated at an elevation of more than 13,000 feet.

He would then spend July 9 in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, the country’s economic hub and located at a lower elevation, then move on to Paraguay July 10.