Photos: Pope Francis Visits South America

South America's faithful have flocked to see the Argentine-born pontiff.
Arriving at Mass
Photos: Pope Francis Visits South America Mariana Bazo/REUTERS

Pope Francis arrived in Bolivia on Wednesday, continuing a tour of South America that is a return home of sorts for the 78-year-old Argentine-born pontiff.

Francis's seven-day visit is his second trip to the continent since being elected pope in 2013; he visited Brazil in the year of his election. The itinerary for this trip sees the pope visiting Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, all among the poorest countries in Latin America, according to The New York Times.

The pope landed in Quito, Ecuador, on Sunday, where he held Mass with more than a half-million Ecuadorians. The typically progressive pontiff has used the trip to address issues such as the environment and poverty. The pope recently wrote an encyclical calling for action on climate change.

During a Mass in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the pope denounced consumerism as a "mentality in which everything has a price, everything can be bought, everything is negotiable. This way of thinking only has room for a select few," reported AFP.

He will remain in Bolivia until July 10 before leaving for Paraguay. He returns to Rome July 12.

To deal with altitude sickness associated with visiting Santa Cruz, which lies 1,365 feet above sea level, Pope Francis drank tea made from coca leaves that is traditionally consumed by the region's indigenous people. The tea included camomile and anise seeds, The Guardian reported, in addition to coca leaf, which is the primary ingredient used to create cocaine.

Arriving in Bolivia, the pope praised the country, saying it was "making important steps towards including broad sectors in the country's economic, social and political life," reported the BBC.

The pontiff received a crucifix carved into a wooden hammer and sickle from Bolivia's president, Evo Morales. The pope offered a mild rebuke, saying the gift was "not right," reported the Telegraph.

Pope Francis began his trip to South America Sunday, landing in Ecuador's capital Quito, in strong Andean winds. The Latin American pontiff returns to his native continent to visit three of the poorest nations in the region: Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. Jose Gomez/REUTERS