The Latest: Paraguay's Guarani Language Part of Papal Mass

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


11:50 a.m.

The Mass being celebrated at Paraguay's shrine to the Virgin of Caacupe has featured several readings in the native Guarani language, including the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis.

Guarani is an official language in Paraguay, alongside Spanish, and is unique among indigenous languages in the Americas in that it is the only native tongue whose speakers include a large proportion of non-indigenous people. In other words, it didn't just survive after colonization, but thrived.

The Jesuit priest Xavier Albo, a Bolivia-based anthropologist, says it is indicative of the discrimination native Guarani continue to face in Paraguay that so many Paraguayans speak a Guarani dialect yet would take offense at being called indigenous.

The Guarani extend from Paraguay north to Brazil and are among native South American peoples who have most been subjected to servitude by ranchers and plantation owners.

Paraguay's 6.6 million people include 110,000 indigenous people, by official count, divided among 20 ethnicities. They are disproportionately poor, having been marginalized by deforestation to clear land for ranching and soy production.


11:20 a.m.

Pope Francis is praising Paraguay's women as the "most glorious women of America" because of how they helped rebuild the country after a devastating regional war in the 1860s that wiped out more than half the population, most of it male.

Francis dedicated his homily Saturday at the Virgin of Caacupe shrine to Mary, mother of Jesus, and all the wives and mothers of Paraguay "who at great cost and sacrifice were able to lift up a country defeated, devastated and laid low by war."

As an archbishop in Argentina and as pope, Francis frequently has praised the strength of Paraguay's women, saying they should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their fortitude and faith.

Interrupted by applause, he said Saturday: "You are keepers of the memory, the lifeblood of those who rebuilt the life, faith and dignity of your people." He added: "Then and now, you found the strength not to let this land lose its bearings. God bless your perseverance. God bless and encourage your faith. God bless the women of Paraguay, the most glorious women of America."


10:50 a.m.

Among the Argentines who came to Paraguay to see their fellow countryman Pope Francis was 50-year-old Jose Demetrio Barrionuevo. The pharmaceutical salesman traveled with his wife and four children from Tucuman, Argentina.

Barrionuevo said pride over Pope Francis is not just a matter of sharing a common homeland. He said: "We are also proud of his humility — that he prefers to be with the poor and not the rich."

Barrionuevo said the family also planned to attend Sunday's Mass at the Nu Guazu, a field inside a military base where John Paul II canonized St. Roque Gonzalez in 1988.

Gonzalez was a Jesuit missionary to the native Guarani in the 16th and 17th centuries in what would become Paraguay.


10:30 a.m.

Pope Francis has arrived at the Shrine of the Virgin of Caacupe, where he stood in silent prayer before a statue of the virgin, an icon of the Madonna that is very close to his heart.

After a moment of prayer, he approached the base of the statue, placed his hand on it, and left a white rose to the applause of the few people gathered in the basilica.

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