Pope Francis on Saturday arrived at his final destination, Paraguay, concluding his week long visit to South America.
The pope touched upon Paraguay’s efforts to attain a stable democracy and its economic progress following years of dictatorship that ruled the country. He supported Paraguay’s “unceasing efforts” to end corruption. "I know that there is the firm desire to banish corruption," he said to President Horacio Cartes.
In the presidential palace, Francis expressed his admiration for the role played by the women of Paraguay in the years of war in the 1860s. “As mothers, wives and widows, they shouldered the heaviest burdens." he said.
Due to the papal visit, the Paraguay government declared Friday and Saturday national holidays.
Thousands of Argentinians crossed the border to witness the visit of the first Pope from Latin America who is an Argentine by birth.
Earlier on Saturday, the Pope visited Bolivia’s infamous prison Palmasola, listened to inmates’ stories, and acknowledged the inhumane conditions in the overcrowded prison. He said these conditions should immediately be addressed by Bolivian authorities.
While advising the prison officials to rehabilitate the prisoners rather than punish them, Francis urged the prisoners to help each other and avoid rivalry and division.
"The man standing before you is a man who has experienced forgiveness. A man who was, and is, saved from his many sins." he said.
Prisoners told the Pope about “judicial terrorism” which allows the rich to pay for better conditions in the prison or even lets them buy their freedom, while poor prisoners do not have an opportunity to reach basic needs or legal assistance.
Pope Francis is often referred as the "Pope of the Poor" because of his concern for income equality since his early life. Several times, the Pope uttered his concerns about the capitalist world order that “has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature”.
"Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a 'disposable' culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new." he said in November.
Right wing Americans argued that his teachings reflects a Marxist approach, however the Pope said his words do not amount to any political doctrine.
The first leg of the Pope's visit was to Ecuador, where hundreds of workers prepared for the first papal visit to the country in the last 30 years.
A volunteer at a church in Ecuador praised Francis and said “before Pope Francis, the Catholic Church was out of reach.”