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Thousands flock to Quito for Pope Francis Mass

Tuesday, July 07, 2015 - 00:49

Thousands pitch tents and line up to attend Pope Francis's mass in Quito's Bicentenario Park. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Thousands of pilgrims braved wind and rain to camp out overnight for a Mass to be given by Pope Francis on Tuesday (July 7) in Ecuador's highland capital Quito for an expected million people. Political protests had been rocking the socialist-ruled nation of 15 million people prior to the pontiff's arrival, but his presence has brought a temporary halt to demonstrations. Francis is visiting three of the smallest and poorest nations during a week-long tour of his native South America. At the Bicentenario Park, a former airport where he was due to give Mass mid-morning, some bedraggled faithful camped out for two nights in the extremes of Andean weather - torrential rain, biting wind and blazing sun. Hawkers walked up and down the lines selling wooden crosses, flags and t-shirts made especially for the trip as well as food and drink. Many used umbrellas to shield themselves both from the downpours and blazing sun when the rain cleared. Argentine-born Francis spent most of Monday (July 6)in the coastal city of Guayaquil, delivering a Mass to some 800,000 people before going to a Jesuit-run school to visit a friend he had not seen for three decades. In the evening, Francis flew back to Quito and met with leftist President Rafael Correa at the presidential palace, specially adorned with 120,000 roses, before blessing those gathered in the square below. The pope flies on Wednesday (July 8) to La Paz, Bolivia, another highland city where oxygen tanks are kept at the airport for arriving passengers who may struggle with the thin air. That will focus attention on the 78-year-old pope's health as he had part of one lung removed when he was younger after a serious infection. In Bolivia, Francis is to visit a notoriously violent prison before going to Paraguay where he will meet with social activists.

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Thousands flock to Quito for Pope Francis Mass

Tuesday, July 07, 2015 - 00:49