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Pope in Paraguay: what to expect

Pope Francis will visit Paraguay last on his whirlwind tour of Latin America. The people of the small but deeply Catholic nation are eagerly anticipating his arrival.

MSGR. EDMUNDO MELLID

Archbishop of Asunción (Paraguay)

"In Paraguay we are awaiting the messenger of joy and peace. We hope his presence will encourage us and help us reconstruct the communion that has been broken many times for various reasons. We also want him to give us a new evangelizing impulse. We want to continue the continental mission he is calling for in his encyclical. The Pope is the most important visitor we've had after Saint John Paul II.�

Paraguay is the most heavily Catholic country that the Pope will visit on his tour of three Latin American nations. Almost 90 percent of Paraguayans identify as members of the Universal Church.

But it's not just devout Catholics from Paraguay who will see the Pope. People from all over the continent will travel there for a chance to see the Pope up close.

MSGR. EDMUNDO MELLID

Archbishop of Asunción (Paraguay)

"The great meeting will be at the Basilica of Caacupé, where more or less one million people are expected. Only 100,000 people may be close to the Pope. And one final closing Mass will be in Navassa with two or three million people. Argentines and Brazilians will be there to share the joy of having Pope Francis among us.â?

The Archbishop also said that the Pope's trip will create a unique opportunity for people and politicians to come together to discuss and eventually solve some of the country's major problems.

MSGR. EDMUNDO MELLID

Archbishop of Asunción (Paraguay)

"We have also the problem of politicians who are always in conflict with each other, in a power struggle. We want to emphasize the importance of dialogue, understanding, and focusing together to overcome the special interests for the greater good.�

The trip to Paraguay may have special meaning for Pope Francis, who is the first Jesuit pontiff. Paraguay was the site of major Jesuit evangelization in the 17th century.

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