The Latest: Gay Activist Among Invitees at Papal Event

Here are the latest developments from Pope Francis' trip to South America:


7:15 p.m.

A leading Paraguayan gay rights activist was in the crowd at the Catholic Church's invitation when Pope Francis met with "civil society" in an Asuncion stadium.

His husband called it a huge gesture of tolerance.

Simon Cazal, the executive director of SomosGay, was invited by Paraguay's bishops' conference. Cazal is legally married to an Argentine, Sergio Lopez, though their union isn't recognized in Paraguay.

Lopez told The Associated Press that Paraguay's church had made history with the invitation, calling it "a baby step" but also a "huge (gesture) of tolerance for our organization."

Pope Francis opposes gay marriage in line with church teaching, which says marriage is a union between a man and a woman. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he tried unsuccessfully to prevent Argentina from becoming the first country in Latin America to legalize gay marriage.

However, as pope he has also showed great openness to gays, advocating a church that ministers to everyone without judgment.


6:45 p.m.

Pope Francis is balancing out his apology for the crimes the Catholic Church committed against indigenous during the colonial-era conquest of the Americas with high praise for the Jesuit missions in Paraguay that brought Christianity, European-style education and economic organization to the Guarani Indians.

Francis praised the Jesuit "reductions," as the missions were known, as an almost utopian social and economic experiment — one that was immortalized in the 1986 film, "The Mission." He said they were "one of the most important experiences of evangelization and social organization in history."

He said in a speech to indigenous groups, unions and political figures in Paraguay: "There the Gospel was the soul and the life of communities which did not know hunger, unemployment, illiteracy or oppression. This historical experience shows us that, today too, a more humane society is possible."


5:00 p.m.

Pope Francis has used a long-scheduled lunch break to make an impromptu and moving stop at a religious clinic for the terminally ill poor.

The Italian Rev. Aldo Trentto is director of the Fundacion San Rafael clinic. He fought back tears as he recounted how emotional the visit was for patients. He said Francis at one point leaned over to kiss a terminally ill patient who was too weak to sit up.

The clinic is less than three miles from the Vatican embassy where Francis is staying and houses 100 patients.


2:50 p.m.

Pope Francis has made a symbolic nod to Paraguay's main indigenous people by leading worshippers in reciting "The Lord's Prayer" in their Guarani language during a Mass celebrated at the Shrine of the Virgin of Caacupe.

The Jesuit order to which Francis belongs had a long history of protecting the Guarani from servitude and what some call "cultural genocide" during colonial times and helped to preserve their language.

A Jesuit priest, Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, published the first Guarani grammar in 1639. A leading Paraguay linguist, Miguel Angel Veron, says a friar wrote a Guarani-language catechism in 1588.

Guarani are currently spread among eight countries including Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil.

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