July 12, 2015
ASUNCION, Paraguay (CNS) — Pope Francis returned to his roots July 12 when he visited Banado Norte, a poor neighborhood near the Paraguay River where residents battle seasonal flooding and face possible eviction.
“I couldn’t be in Paraguay without being with you, in your land,” he told the crowd gathered outside St. John the Baptist chapel, one of 13 chapels in the huge Holy Family Parish. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis ministered in similar neighborhoods.
Bishops in Paraguay had wanted the pope to meet with small farmers and indigenous people who have been forced off their land. When those groups were invited instead to a larger meeting with civic organizations, the bishops organized the visit to Banado Norte, one of a string of riverside neighborhoods called the Banados, which were mainly settled by migrants from rural areas.