The Latest: Pope Francis arrives at papal envoy's residence

AP News
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Posted: Jul 05, 2015 6:59 PM
The Latest: Pope Francis arrives at papal envoy's residence

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Here are the latest developments from Pope Francis' trip to South America:

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5:55 p.m.

Pope Francis has arrived at the residence of the Vatican's ambassador in Ecuardor, where he will spend his first night during an eight-day visit to South America.

His ride in from Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport took just over an hour. He first road in the back seat of a small Fiat, then switched to an open Popemobile for a drive through the streets of the capital past crowds of well-wishers.

The pope has no public events scheduled for Sunday night.

On Monday morning, he is to fly to the coastal city of Guayaquil to visit the Shrine of the Divine Mercy. He plans to participate in a Mass at the shrine that is expected to draw more than 1 million people.

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5:10 p.m.

Pope Francis' motorcade has reached Quito and the pontiff has switched to the Popemobile for the final leg of his trip into Ecuador's capital, where he is being cheered by big crowds.

Francis rode in the back seat of a small Fiat for much of the trip into Quito from the airport. He was greeted along the way by thousands of Ecuadoreans clustered in spots along the highway.

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5 p.m.

Some Ecuadoreans are using the visit by Pope Francis to show their disapproval of socialist President Rafael Correa's policies.

The papal motorcade has head shouts of "Correa out!" from some people in the crowds scattered along the highway from the airport into the capital.

Security guards in neon vests were stationed all along the route into Quito.

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4:50 p.m.

Pope Francis didn't include Venezuela and Colombia on this South America visit, but they got a telegram from the pontiffs when his chartered Alitalia Airbus A330 flew through their airspace.

Francis sent greetings Sunday to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Moros and assured him of his affection for the Venezuelan people. The pope wrote that he had asked God to help Venezuelans, in his words, "grow each day in solidarity and peaceful coexistence."

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos got a similar greeting. Francis said he hoped the Colombian people "grow in the human and spiritual values that characterize them, and that prosperity and peaceful coexistence will also grow."

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4:35 p.m.

During his 13-hour flight to South America, Pope Francis took a break to go back in his plane to greet each of the 75 journalists travelling with the papal entourage on the papal visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.

Francis chatted with each one and accepted a few keepsakes that were offered.

One Bolivian journalist handed him a host of goodies, including drawings from Bolivian children and a few chocolates embossed with his image that were made in Sucre, Bolivia.

"I love children's drawings!" a pleased Francis told her.

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4:25 p.m.

Thousands of Ecuadoreans are waving and cheering to Pope Francis as the pontiff's motorcade drives him into the country's capital, Quito.

Crowds are gathered at different points along the motorcade's route, but stretches of the highway are empty of people.

Francis is starting a nine-visit to his native continent and will be visiting three of its poorest nations — Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.

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4 p.m.

The welcoming ceremony for Pope Francis has concluded at the airport outside Ecuador's capital and the pontiff is beginning the drive into Quito, sitting in the back seat of a car.

Thousands of people are lined up on the motorcade route to cheer the pope, who is beginning a nine-day visit to three South American countries.

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3:35 p.m.

Pope Francis is standing bareheaded as he listens to President Rafael Correa of Ecuador speak at the airport because his white papal skullcap blew off in the wind after he stepped out of his plan.

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3:10 p.m.

Pope Francis has stepped off the papal plane in Quito, Ecuador and has been received by President Rafael Correa. Francis' white papal skullcap blew off in the wind after he stepped onto the stairs.

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2:45 p.m.

Pope Francis has arrived in Ecuador for a nine-day tour of three South American countries.

Thousands are already lining the motorcade route in Quito that Pope Francis will travel to the Vatican ambassador's residence where he'll stay for the first leg of the three-nation trip that ends July 13.  

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2:40 p.m.

The airport in Quito has now been closed to all air traffic except for the pope's Alitalia Airbus A330 until an hour after the pontiff's scheduled arrival. Francis will be the first pope to set foot in Ecuador since Polish-born John Paul II visited in 1985.

John Paul called for a more just society and reminded indigenous groups of the important role missionaries played when they arrived centuries before. Francis, an Argentine Jesuit, is expected to repeat those messages.

John Paul's visits to South America in the 1980s were clouded by his concern about the rise of liberation theology, fearing the Marxist excesses of its "preferential option for the poor" were turning the Gospel into a call for armed revolution.

Francis is also opposed to the politicization of the faith. But he has sought to rehabilitate what he calls the true meaning of liberation theology — ending poverty.

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1:15 p.m.

Crowds are beginning to gather along the route in Quito, Ecuador, that the pope will take from the airport to the papal nuncio's residence where he will be staying.

Francis will switch from a car to the bubble-windowed popemobile for the last five miles of the trip.

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1:05 p.m.

Indigenous peoples — Quechua, Aymara, Shuar, Guarani, Chiquitano — are prevalent all in all three countries Francis is visiting this week.

Humberto Cholango is ex-president of Ecuador's dominant indigenous federation, CONAIE (Koh'-nye). He says his group sought a separate event with Pope Francis during his trip to South America but the Vatican said the pontiff's schedule was too packed.

Cholango says 30 indigenous delegates will attend a speech by the pope on Tuesday outside Quito's cathedral.

That contrasts with what's planned for Bolivia, whose President Evo Morales is Aymara.  

An Aymara honor guard will greet the pope when he arrives there Wednesday. Church officials also say a choir of lowlands Indians will perform the Baroque music that Jesuit missionaries introduced there in colonial times.

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10:50 a.m.

When Ecuador's President Rafael Correa greets Pope Francis at Quito's airport this afternoon it will be the fourth time the two have met.

Correa is a practicing Roman Catholic who worked as a missionary with a highlands indigenous community as a young man. He says in an interview published Sunday in the official newspaper El Telegrafo that the two have mutual friends among Ecuador's Jesuits.

When the pope headed the religious order in Argentina he sent young seminarians to study in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

The priest in charge of those studies, Francisco Cortes Garcia, is now 91 and walks with a cane with a built-in flashlight. The pope specifically asked to see him on this visit.

Known as Padre Paquito, he is among 22 Jesuits lunching privately with the pope in Guayaquil on Monday.

It will be the first time the two have met since 1985.

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10:35 a.m.

Ecuador's president appears to be trying to capitalize on Pope Francis' huge popularity.

In Quito, where the pope arrives this afternoon, billboards erected by Rafael Correa's leftist government quote the pontiff's reflections on the same inequalities the president argues against. All bear Francis' smiling visage.

One in Guayaquil says: "It's not enough to wait for the poor to pick up the crumbs that fall from the table of the rich."

But church officials say the quote is inaccurate on one billboard that reads: "The redistribution of wealth should be demanded." Catholic authorities say the pope used the word "distribution," not "redistribution."

Political opponents have cried foul, saying Correa is bent on that very redistribution.

Correa has been recently buffeted by the most serious protests of his more than eight years in power. They were sparked by legislation that would have imposed a 75 percent tax on inheritance and real estate capital gains. Correa has suspended the proposal.

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9:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is in the air, heading to his native continent of South America on a nine-day pastoral pilgrimage.

The Alitalia plane flying Francis and his entourage to Quito, Ecuador, left Rome on Sunday at 9:15 a.m. (0715 GMT). The Argentine-born pope will also visit Bolivia and Paraguay. He returns to Rome on July 13.

History's first Latin American pope is returning with a message of solidarity with the region's poor, who are expected to turn out in droves.

"The pope of the poor" chose to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay because they are among the poorest and most marginal nations of a region that claims 40 percent of the world's Catholics. He's skipping his homeland of Argentina, at least partly to avoid papal entanglement in this year's presidential election.