Three inmates told Pope Francis of their tribulations inside the prison.
“They found a way to move their families and their country forward, instilling in new generations the hope of a better tomorrow”.
The audience gave Francis a standing ovation when he put on a yellow miner’s hat that was given to him at the end of his speech.
The Pope’s remarks came July 10, in an address to Paraguayan leaders in the gardens of the Presidential Palace in the capital of Asuncion.
“Paraguay is known as the heart of America, not only because of its geographic location, but also because of the warmth of its hospitality and the friendliness of her people“. As his Airbus crossed over northern Argentina, he sent Argentine President Cristina Kirchner a message of “affection for his dear country”.
Youth groups chanted “Pope Francis, Paraguay is with you!” as they waited for the pontiff to arrive, many spending the night in tents or under the stars to secure a good spot.
Morales finally admitted that at one point it crossed his mind that the pope could mediate in the issue, but recalled that the matter is already to the consideration of the global court in The Hague.
When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, the ex- Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio often visited a slum that is home to many Paraguayan immigrants, joining them in their religious processions and celebrating baptisms at their church, Our Lady of Miracles of Caacupe.
Bolivia’s president also said Friday he thinks that what Pope Francis preaches amounts to socialism.
Cartes’ predecessor, Fernando Lugo, was a ex- Catholic priest who was ousted by an impeachment that some in South America described as nothing less than a coup by the party that traditionally ruled Paraguay until Lugo’s election. He served in office until 2012, when he was kicked out in a coup.
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. With some, he exchanged kisses and hugs. One disconsolate female inmate broke down in tears and threw herself into the pope’s arms, saying she felt utterly abandoned.
The pope started the day in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where he listened on as inmates told their stories of how they ended up at Palmasola and of the “judicial terrorism” that lets the wealthy bribe their way to freedom while the poor languish in squalor.
According to Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press, the pope asked for forgiveness for what happened against the native peoples of Latin America during colonial times.
Pope Francis urged prisoners to shun rivalry and seek “genuine fraternity”. “It is Jesus Christ”, the pope said.
The Palmasola prison, almost 50 years old, was built to hold 600 prisoners but is now overflowing with almost 5,000 men and women.
“For the first time, I feel like I have a pope: Pope Francis“, said Bolivian President Evo Morales, who claims to have indigenous ancestry.
Four years later Lugo was impeached and ousted by Congress because of his handling of a land eviction in which 17 people were killed. During the War of the Triple Alliance, an estimated 60 percent of the country’s population was wiped out.
And in a historic gesture of reconciliation, he asked Bolivia’s mostly indigenous population for forgiveness from crimes committed centuries ago in the name of the Catholic Church.
Chesnut added that it will be interesting to see whether Francis also apologizes when he visits Cuba in September.