It was a historic eight day trip, in three Latin American countries. It included long plane rides, Masses and a long list of speeches. Along with that, it included plenty of moving moments along the way.
In Ecuador, the Pope visited a local chapter of the Sisters of Charity. Following the charism of their founder, Mother Teresa, they care for the elderly day in and day out. After greeting the elderly, one by one, the Pope then joked around with the nuns. Once outside, he made it a point to bless the crowds who were outside, cheering for him.
"As a university, as educational institutions, as teachers and students, life itself challenges us to answer this question: What does this world need us for? Where is your brother?”
Once in Bolivia, more highlights followed. The story that made its way around the world was this gift...Evo Morales gave the Pope a crucifix tied to international symbol of communism. Then, he spoke to massive crowds who are part of Catholic popular movements. More than anything he highlighted the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church.
"I wish to be quite clear, as was Saint John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the Church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.”
Then came the third and final stage of his trip in Paraguay. After a colorful welcome to the country, the Pope visited a local hospital. It moved not just the patients to tears, but also many of their family members.
While celebrating Mass in Paraguay, the Pope also honored the role women played in that country's history. When men were out fighting wars, he said, it was women who moved the country forward.
"You are keepers of the memory, the lifeblood of those who rebuilt the life, faith and dignity of your people. God bless your perseverance, God bless and encourage your faith. God bless the women of Paraguay, the most glorious women of America.”
The Pope seemed to feel at home during the visit. After all the greetings and ride alongs in the popemobile and huge crowds, he probably got a bit of a preview of what he can expect when he visits the U.S and Cuba in September.