Pope Francis, the first Latin American leader of the Catholic Church, will travel to the city of Guayaquil in Ecuador on Monday to spread the message of compassion and environmental respect.
More than 1 million people are expected to attend mass at the Shrine of the Divine Mercy.
During his eight-day tour of South America, Pope Francis, known as “the pope of the poor,” will also visit, Bolivia, and Paraguay, whose populations are mostly Catholic. In Ecuador, 79% of the population is Catholic, while in Bolivia and Paraguay, 77% and 89% respectively are Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center. He is not scheduled to visit his home country of Argentina.
In a speech on Sunday in front of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Pope Francis stressed the need to for people to take care of each other.
"From the peak of Chimborazo to the Pacific coast, from the Amazon rainforest to the Galapagos Islands, may you never lose the ability to thank God for what he has done and is doing for you," he said, according to the New York Times. "May you never lose the ability to protect what is small and simple, to care for your children and your elderly who are the memory of your people, to have confidence in the young, and to be constantly struck by the nobility of your people and the singular beauty of your country."
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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