During his second day in Paraguay, Pope Francis visited Bañado Norte, one of the most poor neighborhood's in the country's capital city.
Pope Francis went from house to house and spoke with people in the area. Afterward, he blessed and greeted residents and heard from them.
They explained to him that some 100,000 people live in the neighborhood.
"Being expelled from the countryside to the city, the high price of land and housing in the city, coupled with low incomes that characterize our living conditions, are the reasons why we now live in the Bañado.”
They also told Pope Francis about growing social inequality in the area, and they thanked him for his visit.
"We are like Lazarus. Like the lepers from the Gospel, we are not taken into account. The marshes of Asuncion, once neglected lands, are now beginning to be regarded as very desirable land. We feel that we are a nuisance for large businesses and investments and they want to move us to outside these territories.”
The Pope asked them to continue fighting and to remain unified. He explained that faith without solidarity is a dead faith.
"A faith which does not draw us into solidarity is a faith which is dead or a lie. 'I am very Catholic. I am very Catholic. I go to Church every Sunday.' But tell me, mister, madame, what happens in Bañado Norte? 'Oh, I don't
know. I know that there are people there, but I don't know.' More than going to Mass on Sundays, if you do not have a heart of solidarity, if you know not know what happens to your people, your faith is weak or it is sick or it
is dead. It is a faith without Christ. Faith without solidarity is a faith without Christ, a faith without God, a faith without fraternity.”
Afterward, they showed him the Scholas project in Paraguay. Scholas is a global network of schools that Pope Francis supports. He blessed the olive of peace, a symbol of the project, and they gave him this hat.
Before leaving, he prayed the 'Our Father' in an indigenous language and asked the neighborhood's residents to remain united.