The Latest: Pope Visits Terminally Ill Poor in Paraguay

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


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.

In Paraguay, they are disproportionately poor, having been forced off their traditional lands by ranchers. Their numbers are disputed. In 2002, the national census put the Guarani population at 89,000. The government now says there are 30,000


12:25 p.m.

Pope Francis has given the world its newest basilica: At the end of his Mass Saturday at the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Caacupe, Paraguay's most important pilgrimage site, officials read aloud a Vatican decree declaring the site a minor basilica.

The elevated status shows Caacupe's particular link to the Catholic Church and its pope.

Francis has long had a soft spot for the Caacupe icon of the Madonna, stemming from his days ministering to Paraguayan immigrants in the slums of Buenos Aires.

The 1989 Vatican document that outlines how basilicas are designated says the sites must enjoy a certain renown in the diocese, "stand out as a center of active and pastoral liturgy" that others can look to as a model, and must have historical value or importance. Once designated, a basilica must celebrate certain liturgical feasts and can use the papal symbol of the "crossed keys" on banners and furnishings in a sign of its connection to Rome.

There are four major basilicas in Rome, and over 1,600 minor basilicas in the rest of the world.


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.

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