Pope Francis Trip to three South American Nations
Pope Francis, the first South American pontiff, has returned to that continent to begin an eight-day visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.
The 78-year-old Jesuit pope landed in Ecuador's capital, Quito, Sunday afternoon, on the first leg of his visit, where he was greeted by President Rafael Correa and church dignitaries.
Huge crowds also gathered along the route from the airport to the papal nuncio's residence, where Francis will be staying. "I am happy for the blessing of having a Father who comes from so far away to see his children," said one pilgrim.
The pope is planning to celebrate a Mass in eight languages Monday. Later in the trip, he is planning a visit to a violent Bolivian prison, a meeting with Bolivian trash collectors and a stop at a flood-prone Paraguayan shantytown.
As he left Rome, Francis said he wanted to emphasize the plight of impoverished people in the three countries he is visiting, "especially children in need, the elderly, the sick, the imprisoned, the poor, those who are victims of this throwaway culture."
The Roman Catholic Church has about 1.2 billion followers, with a large portion of them in Latin America. Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay are three of South America's poorest and smallest countries.
Global Markets Drop After Greek 'No' Vote
European stock markets fell at the open Monday after voters in eurozone member Greece rejected austerity demands by international creditors. However, after quickly dropping around 2 percent, European markets recovered and settled in with 1.5 percent losses in mid-morning trading.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei lost more than 2 percent at the close, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped more than 3 percent. South Korea's Kospi was also down, along with markets in Sydney and Wellington.
Mainland China markets, somewhat isolated from world markets, initially showed very strong gains Monday after recent severe losses, but the Shanghai Composite eventually closed up 2.4 percent.