From July 7-13, Pope Francis visited South America: Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. Here are my personal 10 favorite quotes from the trip; words that show his Gospel-centered faith and pastor’s sensibility. (To read the whole thing, find each event here.)
1. Impromptu: ‘I hold you all in my heart …’
“Now I will celebrate Mass, and I hold you all in my heart. … I will say to the Lord, ‘You know the names of those who were there.’ I will ask Jesus for great mercy for every one of you; I will ask Him to care for you and to cover you with his mercy.”
— Pope Francis impromptu remarks at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Guyaquil, Ecuador, July 7.
2. Witness, not proselytizing.
“Evangelization does not consist in proselytizing, for proselytizing is a caricature of evangelization, but rather evangelizing entails attracting by our witness those who are far off, it means humbly drawing near to those who feel distant from God in the Church, drawing near to those who feel judged and condemned outright by those who consider themselves to be perfect and pure.”
— Pope Francis, Bicentennial Park, Quito, Ecuador, July 7.
3. To Professors: Jesus wasn’t pedantic.
“In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus, the Master, teaches the crowds and the small group of his disciples by accommodating himself to their ability to understand. … Jesus does not seek to ‘play the professor.’ Instead, he seeks to reach people’s hearts, their understanding and their lives, so that they may bear fruit.”
— Pope Francis, Meeting with Educators, Catholic University of Ecuador, July 7.
4. Their own fault? Help them anyway.
“In a family, parents, grandparents and children feel at home; no one is excluded. If someone has a problem, even a serious one, even if he brought it upon himself, the rest of the family comes to his assistance; they support him. … Should the same not happen in society?”
— Pope Francis Meeting With Political, Economic and Civic Leaders, Quito, Ecuador, July 7.
5. Why are Ecuadorians so different?
“There is something different about the Ecuadorian people. Everywhere I go, I receive a really joyful, warm and prayerful welcome; everywhere. But here I see real piety in the way, for example, a blessing is sought from the eldest right down to the ‘wawa,’ and that it is the first thing you learn to do. … I asked Jesus several times in prayer: ‘What is it that is so distinctive about this people?’ And this morning, praying about it, I was struck by it: It is the consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
— National Marian Shrine of El Quinche, Quito, Ecuador, July 7.
6. The Pope on Children Crying at Mass …
“It is the attitude of some leaders of God’s people; they continually scold others, hurl reproaches at them, tell them to be quiet. … ‘Madam, take your crying child out of the church as I am preaching.’ As if the cries of a child were not a sublime homily.
— Pope Francis at Don Bosco College, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, July 9.
7. Who is Pope Francis?
“You may be asking yourselves: ‘Who is this man standing before us?’ I would like to reply to that question with something absolutely certain about my own life. The man standing before you is a man who has experienced forgiveness. A man who was, and is, saved from his many sins. That is who I am. I don’t have much more to give you or to offer you, but I want to share with you what I do have and what I love. It is Jesus Christ, the mercy of the Father.”
— Pope Francis at the Santa Cruz-Palmasola prison, Bolivia, July 10.
8. When Jesus got ‘ticked off.’
“Dear children, I want to ask you a question; maybe you can help me. They tell me that you are all very intelligent, and so I want to ask you: Did Jesus ever get annoyed? … Do you remember when? If this seems like a difficult question, let me help you. It was when they wouldn’t let the children come to him. That is the only time in the entire Gospel of Mark when we hear that he was ‘annoyed’ (cf. Mk 10:13-15). We would say that he was really ‘ticked off.’ … He was really mad. He loved children.”
— Pope Francis, Asuncion, Paraguay, Children’s Hospital, July 11.
9. ‘The Most Glorious Women of America’
“I would like especially to mention you, the women, wives and mothers of Paraguay, who at great cost and sacrifice were able to lift up a country defeated, devastated and laid low by an abominable war. … You lived through many difficult situations which, in the eyes of the world, would seem to discredit all faith. Yet, inspired and sustained by the Blessed Virgin, you continued to believe. … God bless your perseverance, God bless and encourage your faith, God bless the women of Paraguay, the most glorious women of America.”
— Pope Francis at the Marian Shrine of Caacupé, Paraguay July 11.
10. Tweet for Jesus.
“Bring the excitement of Jesus’ friendship to the world, wherever you find yourselves: at work, at school, on WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter. When you go out dancing, or for a drink, when you meet in the town square or play a little match on the neighborhood field. That is where Jesus’ friends can be found. Not by conning others, but by standing beside them and being patient with them. With the patience which comes from knowing that we are happy, because we have a Father who is in heaven.”
— Pope Francis Meeting With Young People, Asunción, Paraguay, July 12.