Pope Francis arrived in Bolivia at the highest elevation airport in the world, which is about 13,000 feet above sea level. The papal plane was more than an hour late. Waiting on the tarmac was Bolivian President Evo Morales, who gave the Pope a powerful hug when he arrived.
Children dressed in traditional outfits greeted Pope Francis, and he happily hugged them as well.
Some even took a selfie with the Pope.
During his welcoming remarks, Morales praised the Pope for his defense of the poor and also mentioned a centuries-old dispute with Chile regarding access to the ocean.
President of Bolivia
"You have come to a land of peace that seeks justice. Welcome to a part of the great nation which has lost its right of access to the sea through an invasion.”
During his speech, the Pope made clear that his visit was motivated by pastoral, and not political, reasons.
"As a guest and a pilgrim, I have come to confirm the faith of those who believe in the Risen Christ. In days to come, I would like to encourage the vocation of Christ’s disciples to share the joy of the Gospel.”
He said that comprehensive progress eliminates differences between people and that this is achieved with education and honesty.
"A growth which is merely material will always run the risk of creating new divisions, of the wealth of some being built on the poverty of others. Hence, in addition to institutional transparency, social unity requires efforts to promote the education of citizens.”
Bolivia is the most impoverished country in Latin America. Although this is the fourth time that Pope Francis has met with Evo Morales, relations between the Church and his government have always been tense.
After the ceremony, the Pope rode the Popemobile to a special place. He blessed the spot where the body of the Spanish Jesuit Luis Espinal was found. He was a missionary with great talent for journalism and film. The priest was killed in March 1980, just days before Archbishop Oscar Romero.
May Christ draw this man into Himself.
And this was how the second leg of Pope Francis' Latin American journey began.