After the mass, Francis was due to go to a Jesuit-run school to visit an old friend he has not seen in three decades, the cigar-smoking Rev. Francisco Cortes. History’s first Latin American pope returns to Spanish-speaking South America for the first time on Sunday..
It is his ninth trip overseas but only the second visit to Ecuador by a pope.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Cortes couldn’t fathom that Bergoglio remembered him, much less made a point of coming to have lunch.
Upon leaving the plane, the pope continued his campaign to uplift the poor in his first speech, saying that as a representative of the Catholic Church, he can not disassociate himself from the struggles of the underprivileged.
Since he was elected pope in March 2013, Francis has become an outspoken advocate for the poor and on social and environmental issues.
Children in traditional dress greeted the pope at the Mariscal Sucre airport, and shook hands with many of them.
Ecuadorian police officers stand by as Pope Francis passes through the streets of Quito in his ” … “From the peak of Chimborazo to the Pacific coast; from the Amazon rain forest to the Galapagos Islands, may you never lose the ability to thank God for what he has done and is doing for you”. He says he walked 25 miles (40 kilometers) with a procession from the southern part of Guayaquil to the park, which is in the far northern part of the city.
Francis visited Brazil in July 2013.
It is also a country heavily dependent on oil, which accounts for 96 percent of Ecuador’s exports. High crude prices allowed Correa to get take 1.3 million people out of poverty in his eight years in office.
Francis will return to Quito later in the afternoon for a formal visit with Correa and a short visit to the city’s cathedral, where the pope is expected to give brief remarks.
Hundreds of thousands of faithful cheered Pope Francis as he arrived at the Semanes Park in Guayaquil.
The 78-year-old pope weaved his homily around the theme of the family, which will be the subject of a month-long synod, or gathering of bishops, at the Vatican in October.
“We can find in the Gospel a key to meeting contemporary challenges, respecting differences, fostering dialogue and full participation, so that the growth in progress and development already registered will ensure a better future for everyone, with particular concern for the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters”.
Father Ariel Beramendi, the sole Bolivian priest working at the Vatican, told CNA he expects that Pope Francis’ trip to his homeland will “revive and stir up the faith of Catholics” there.
Francis cited Ecuador’s natural beauty in his arrival words.
“I won’t charge you anything, but please pray for me”, Francis quipped.
On Monday, young people with guitars and drums serenaded the Pope as he left the Papal Nunciature’s residence in Quito en route to the airport outside the city.
More than 1 million people are expected to attend Mass at the park.
Travel agency worker Veronica Valdeon called the Argentine pontiff “a light in the darkness”.
“The time is coming when we will taste love daily, when our children will come to appreciate the home we share and our elderly will be present each day in the joys of life”, he said.
His visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay – three of the region’s poorest and smallest countries – is Francis’ first overseas since his landmark encyclical urging an end to man’s degradation of the global environment.
“During his nine-day trip, he will reach out to indigenous communities – many of which still associate Catholicism with colonialism – visit inmates in Bolivia’s infamous Palmasola prison and tour Paraguay’s Banado Norte shantytown”.