(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with government authorities and members of the diplomatic corps in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Friday evening. The meeting took place shortly after the Holy Father’s arrival in Paraguay, on the third and final leg of a three-country tour of Latin America that previously saw him in Bolivia and Ecuador.
Click below to hear our report
In remarks prepared for the occasion, Pope Francis thanked the people of Paraguay for the display of their characteristic hospitality, and praised the spirit of resilience and perseverance that informs the Paraguayan popular ethos. He had words of especial praise for the women of Paraguay. “I would also like to acknowledge with profound admiration the role played by the women of Paraguay,” throughout the nation’s history, which has been from the outset troubled by war and internal strife and instability. “As mothers, wives and widows, they shouldered the heaviest burdens; they found a way to move their families and their country forward, instilling in new generations the hope of a better tomorrow.”
The Holy Father also praised the efforts of the nation and the people to build a solid and stable democracy, and encouraged everyone to continue working to strengthen the democratic structures and institutions, so that they can respond to the legitimate aspirations of the nation’s people. “In every sector of society,” said Pope Francis, “but above all in public service, there is a need to reaffirm that dialogue is the best means of promoting the common good, on the basis of a culture of encounter, respect and acknowledgment of the legitimate differences and opinions of others.”
The Holy Father also offered assurances of the commitment and cooperation of the Catholic Church in the common effort to build a just and inclusive society where each person can live in peace and harmony. “All of us, including the Church’s pastors, are called to be concerned with building a better world (cf. Evangelii Gaudium , 183),” he said. “Our sure faith in God, who willed to become man, to live among us and to share our lot, urges us to press forward. Christ opens up to us the path of mercy, which, founded on justice, goes beyond it to inspire works of charity, so that no one will remain on the fringes of this great family which is Paraguay, a land you love and which you wish to serve.”
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) On his arrival in Paraguay, Pope Francis called for the promotion of the common good and encouraged efforts to strengthen peace and democracy in the nation. He also said helping the poor and needy should be given the priority of place. The Pope’s words came in an address to the Paraguayan government authorities and members of the diplomatic corps in the grounds of the presidential palace shortly after arriving in Asuncion on Friday (July 10th) on the final leg of his visit to Latin America. Please find below an English translation of the full text of the Pope’s prepared remarks:
Distinguished Government Authorities,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I offer cordial greetings to you, Mr President, and I thank you for your respectful and affectionate words of welcome in the name of the government, the civil authorities and the beloved Paraguayan people. I also greet the distinguished members of the diplomatic corps, and through them, I express my respect and esteem to the countries they represent.
A particular word of thanks is due to all those individuals and institutions which worked so hard to prepare this visit and to make me feel at home. It is not hard to feel at home in so welcoming a land. 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.
From the first days of the country’s independence to recent times, Paraguay has known the terrible sufferings brought on by war, fratricidal conflict, lack of freedom and contempt for human rights. How much suffering and death! Yet the Paraguayan people have also shown an admirable spirit of perseverance in surmounting adversities and in working to build a prosperous and peaceful nation. Here, in the garden of this palace which has witnessed so much of the country’s history – from the time when it was no more than a riverbank used by the Guaraní, until the present day – I wish to pay tribute to the many ordinary Paraguayan people, whose names are not written in history books but who have been, and continue to be, the real protagonists in the life of your nation. I would also like to acknowledge with profound admiration the role played by the women of Paraguay in those dramatic historical moments. As mothers, wives and widows, they shouldered the heaviest burdens; they found a way to move their families and their country forward, instilling in new generations the hope of a better tomorrow.
A people which forgets its own past, its history and its roots, has no future. Memory, if it is firmly based on justice and rejects hatred and all desire for revenge, makes the past a source of inspiration for the building of a future of serene coexistence. It also makes us realize the tragedy and pointlessness of war. Let there be an end to wars between brothers! Let us always build peace! A peace which grows stronger day by day, a peace which makes itself felt in everyday life, a peace to which each person contributes by seeking to avoid signs of arrogance, hurtful words, contemptuousness, and instead by working to foster understanding, dialogue and cooperation.
For some years now, Paraguay has sought to build a solid and stable democracy. It is proper to recognize with satisfaction progress made in this direction, thanks to the efforts of everyone, even amid great difficulties and uncertainties. I encourage you to continue working to strengthen the democratic structures and institutions, so that they can respond to the legitimate aspirations of the nation’s people. The form of government adopted by your Constitution, a “representative, participative and pluralistic democracy” based on the promotion of and respect for human rights, must banish the temptation to be satisfied with a purely formal democracy, one which, as Aparecida put it, is content with being “founded on fair election procedures” (Aparecida Document, 74).
In every sector of society, but above all in public service, there is a need to reaffirm that dialogue is the best means of promoting the common good, on the basis of a culture of encounter, respect and acknowledgment of the legitimate differences and opinions of others. In the effort to overcome a spirit of constant conflict, convictions born of ideology or partisan interest should blend advantageously with love of the country and its people. That love must be the incentive to increased administrative transparency and unceasing efforts to combat corruption.
Dear friends, in the desire to serve and promote the common good, the poor and needy have to be given priority of place. Paraguay has done much to advance along the path of economic growth. Important steps have been taken in the areas of education and health care. May all social groups work to ensure that there will never again be children without access to schooling, families without homes, workers without dignified employment, small farmers without land to cultivate, or campesinos forced to leave their lands for an uncertain future. May there be an end to violence, corruption and drug trafficking. An economic development which fails to take into account the weakest and underprivileged is not an authentic development. Economic progress must be measured by the integral dignity of the human person, especially the most vulnerable and helpless.
Mr President, dear friends, in the name of my brothers, the bishops of Paraguay, I also wish to assure you of the commitment and cooperation of the Catholic Church in the common effort to build a just and inclusive society where each person can live in peace and harmony. All of us, including the Church’s pastors, are called to be concerned with building a better world (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 183). Our sure faith in God, who willed to become man, to live among us and to share our lot, urges us to press forward. Christ opens up to us the path of mercy, which, founded on justice, goes beyond it to inspire works of charity, so that no one will remain on the fringes of this great family which is Paraguay, a land you love and which you wish to serve.
With great joy that I have come to this country consecrated to the Virgin of Caacupé, I invoke the Lord’s blessings on each of you, your families and all the beloved people of Paraguay. May this country be fruitful, as symbolized by the pasiflora fower on Our Lady’s mantle, and may the national colors which decorate her image draw all the Paraguayan people to embrace the Mother of Caacupé.
Thank you very much.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Marisa is one of the main organisers of the overnight vigil taking place before Pope Francis celebrates Mass on Sunday morning (July 12th) in Asuncion’s Nu Guazu Park. She spoke to our correspondent in Asuncion, Linda Bordoni, about the preparations for this vigil and what it will entail and the great enthusiasm among the people for this papal visit to Paraguay.
Asked what she feels is the greatest challenge facing Paraguay, Marisa said the country and its people need “a conversion” and to “renew our faith.” “The biggest need in Paraguay is to know Jesus”, she said, and through him find “the meaning of life.” Marisa said such a conversion will prompt people to behave better, to forgive others and try to be honest.
Listen to the interview with Marisa:
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis arrives in the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion on Friday for the third and final phase of his pastoral visit to Latin America. Over the following two days he will meet with civil and religious leaders, with young people, with slum dwellers in one of the poorest parts of the city and with patients and staff at a children’s hospital.
On Saturday and Sunday, the Pope will celebrate Mass at the Marian shrine of Caacupé and in a park where up to a million and a half people are expected to attend the liturgy, with prayers in both Spanish and the local indigenous language, Guaranì.
Father Alberto Luna is provincial of the Society of Jesus in Paraguay: ahead of the Pope’s arrival in Asuncion, he talked to Linda Bordoni, our correspondent for this papal journey, about his expectations and about the significance of the Guaranì language and culture…..
Fr Alberto says the Jesuits are enthusiastically looking waiting for the Pope and his message because, as an Argentinian Jesuit, “he knows Paraguay and our people”. When he was a bishop in Buenos Aires, Fr Alberto continues, he met many Paraguayans living there so he appreciates the language, the culture and the faith of the people. “We hope he’ll encourage us to live our faith with a special commitment for the poor and to change our ways of life”, he adds, “we need that”.
Speaking about the importance of Guaranì culture, Fr Alberto says it is “our native language, our roots, it expresses our feelings” in the best way. Pope Francis understands that and encourages us to appreciate our language. Today, he says, the language is in danger because of globalization, so “we need to defend it and I think the Pope will give us a pride about our language”. He says some of the prayers and readings will be in Guaranì but he would like to see more of its use in the liturgies.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) On Friday evening Pope Francis travels to Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay for the third and final phase of his pastoral visit to Latin America. Around one third of the country’s population of six million people live in the bustling port city located on the left bank of the Paraguay river.
Following his arrival as Asuncion’s international airport, the Pope will have a private meeting with president Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara before addressing the nation’s political and diplomatic authorities in the garden of the presidential palace.
Over the weekend, Pope Francis will then spend time with ordinary people in Paraguay, visiting a children’s hospital, a slum area and the Marian shrine of Caacupé, the spiritual heart of the overwhelmingly Catholic country.
Carla from the United States is a volunteer with the peace corps in Paraguay – she talked to our correspondent in Paraguay, Linda Bordoni, about the way people are preparing for the papal visit
Carla serves in the agricultural sector of the peace corps, working with farming families on improving soil quality to improve crop yields. She notes that Paraguay is a largely agricultural country with most people outside the capital living in rural areas.
She says people are very excited about the papal visit to their nation and delighted by his decision to visit the shrine at Caacupé which she describes as a very sacred and very special place for Paraguayans. She says huge numbers of people – including one and a half million from the surrounding countries – are making the pilgrimage to Asuncion, spending precious time and money to be come and see the Pope in person
(from Vatican Radio)…