Huge mass led by Pope Francis in Quito

  • 08/07/2015
Pope Francis arrives to celebrate mass at the Bicentenario Park in Quito. (Reuters)
Pope Francis arrives to celebrate mass at the Bicentenario Park in Quito. (Reuters)

Pope Francis has warned against the "temptation" of "single leaderships" in front of nearly one million people at an outdoor mass in Ecuador's capital, recently rocked by anti-government protests.

The Argentine-born pontiff focused Tuesday's homily on "our revolution," the need to spread the Roman Catholic faith, as he addressed 900,000 faithful who braved the cold and rain to hear him in Quito's Bicentennial Park.

"The enormous richness of variety ... moves us away from the temptation of offers that are closer to dictatorships, ideologies or sectarianism," history's first Latin American pope said.

"Fight for inclusion at all levels," Pope Francis said, pleading for "dialogue" on the third day of a South American tour that will also take him to Bolivia and Paraguay.

President Rafael Correa attended the mass. For the past month, Correa has faced the biggest protests of his eight-year-old administration, as his socialist policies have angered business leaders as well as the upper and middle classes, which want him to step down.

Correa, an admirer of the pope, and Francis had a private meeting late on Monday. The pope later said he would bless the country so that "it has no differences."

During the mass, the pope invoked South America's independence movements from Spain 200 years ago.

"That cry for liberty... did not lack conviction or force, but history tells us that it was only convincing when personalism, the desire for single leaderships, were put aside," Francis said.

He did not single out any country or government, in a region that has known right-wing dictatorships in the past and controversial left-wing leaders in recent years.

It is the first visit by a pontiff to Ecuador in three decades. His first visit to Latin America as pope was in Brazil in 2013.

His current tour comes at a time when the Vatican is losing followers to protestantism in Latin America, where many of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics hail from.