After an exhausting 13 hour flight Pope Francis made it to Latin America.
The first stage of his eight day trip began in Ecuador. The Pope arrived to Quito, which is the country's capital. Right from the start, he felt a strong wind as he got off the plane. The country's president, Rafael Correa welcomed the Pope in the red carpet, along with his wife. To the side, children dressed with traditional clothing, representing each one of the country's main regions.
In his speech, the president referenced the Pope's recently published encyclical. He also highlighted the need to defend life from conception to natural death. He also touched on the social inequalities of the continent and also the natural beauty of Ecuador.
"Argentinians are very proud to say that the Pope is from Argentina. My dear friend, Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil, says: "Well, the Pope may be Argentinian, but God is Brazilian.” In fact, the Pope is Argentinian, God may be Brazilian, but without a doubt, paradise is Ecuador. Welcome Your Holiness.”
In his remarks, Pope Francis talked about the future of Latin America, highlighting the need to care for the less privileged.
"In the Gospel, we find the keys to help us deal with current challenges. All while valuing differences, promoting dialogue and participation without exclusion. FLASH. Paying special attention to our fragile brothers and sisters, and to vulnerable minorities which represent the debt Latin America still has.”
He then added that the Church in Latin America must not lose sight of its main purpose, which is to proclaim the life and message of Jesus Christ. He described it as a light amid the darkness.
"The moon does not have a light of its own. If the moon hides from the sun, it becomes dark. The sun is Jesus and if the Church turns away or hides from Jesus Christ, it becomes dark and stops giving testimony.”
As part of the welcoming ceremony, the Symphonic Youth Orchestra of Ecuador, sung 'Apamuy Shungo' which combines classical and indigenous tunes. A group of 40 deaf children, who wore white gloves, also took part in the welcoming ceremony. In fact, two of them got a chance to personally greet the Pope.