The Latest: Pope Takes off for Rome, Wrapping up LatAm Visit

Paraguay Pope South America

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


7:40 p.m.

Pope Francis is on his way back to Rome.

The pontiff's flight took off from Asuncion, Paraguay, after a goodbye ceremony at the airport. His overnight flight on Air Italia is scheduled to land in Rome early Monday afternoon.

This was Francis' first tour of Spanish-speaking South America since the Argentine-born priest became pope in 2013. During eight days in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, he visited slums, prisons and hospitals while also meeting with local clergy, indigenous and other groups and the presidents of each country.


6:45 p.m.

telling young people to shake up society, but then help clean the mess up. His exhortation came Sunday during the final event on his three-country tour in South America.

His comments were a modification of his famous exhortation in 2013, when in Rio de Janeiro he told a church full of Argentine youths that he wanted them to "make a mess" by shaking up their dioceses.

Francis told tens of thousands of young people gathered in Paraguay's capital on Sunday that a fellow priest once told him that encouraging youths to disrupt things up was all good and well, but that later others had to clean up after them.

So Francis said he was correcting himself.

"The mess that young people make, we then have to clean it up ourselves!" he said to roars of laughter. "Shake things up, but then clean it up and fix the mess that you've made."


6:10 p.m.

At the last stop of his South American trip, three young people have given Pope Francis very personal testimonies about their lives, which haven't been easy.

The pope was particularly moved by the story told by 25-year-old Liz Fretes. She says her mother lost her cognitive faculties and "became like a child." Their roles were reversed: Fretes became the caregiver, having to change her mother's diapers, bathe her and play with her as if with a child.

Fretes thought she would never be able to make something of herself. But someone paid for her studies and she is now a nurse. She cared for her mother and her grandmother by day and went to school at night.

Fretes said she understands that her mother's illness has made her stronger.

After she spoke, the pope blessed her, kissed her forehead and hugged her. The two exchanged words privately. Then Fretes reached up and around the pope and hugged him again.


5:05 p.m.

Pope Francis is arriving to the final event of his three-country tour in South America.

He plans to address tens of thousands of young people waiting for him at a venue along the banks of the Paraguay River in Asuncion.

Paraguayan national flags and other banners are being waved and the crowd is particularly loud.

After the meeting, the pope is scheduled to say a prayer at the site of a supermarket fire that killed hundreds in 2004. Then he plans to fly back to Rome.


2:50 p.m.

The head of the Greek Orthodox Church in South America has had a privileged spot at Pope Francis' events this week.

Metropolitan Tarasios is an old friend of the pope's from Buenos Aires, where he is based.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Sunday that Tarasios asked Francis if he might participate in the trip, and he traveled from Ecuador to Bolivia and to Paraguay on his own. On Sunday, he gave a greeting at Francis final Mass in Asuncion.

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