By returning last sunday to Rome the weeklong visit of Pope Francis in Southamerica came officially to an end. Looking back – what did this visit mean to the people of South America?
Thousands of people camping overnight, inflowing population from the whole country and even neighbouring countries, police everywhere, helicopters overflying the city and closed streets and shops – Clearly when the 78-year-old pope visited Ecuador on his second day of his South American tour everything was prepared.
It was the first visit by a pontiff to Ecuador since 30 years and his second visit to the continent since he became pontiff. Also therefore Ecuador was full of tight expectations and tension in the air.
With around half a million people attending a special midday Mass in Guayaquil (Ecuador’s largest city), which featured readings in Quichua, the native language mostly spoken in Ecuador, Pope Francis established his South American visit.
“Latin America and the entire world does not completely understand the fact of having a Latin American pope for the first time (…), it is a turning point that means the church will pay more attention to the third world, to the poor, social topics, as Pope Francis is clearly saying,”  states out Ecuador´s President Rafael Correa.
“There are many things in [Pope Francis’ message of taking care of nature as stated] Laudato Si that are already being applied in Ecuador, our constitutions grants nature with rights,” Rafel Correa explained. Regarding the oil exploitation registered in Yasuním, he said people exaggerate. “Yasuní has a million hectares and only 250 hectares will be affected, less than one per thousand of the land and those resources help us to overcome poverty,” he clarified. 
Waving flags and pictures of the Virgin Mary, people selling crosses, posters and writlets – the visit of the pope stands for a lot: hope, the meaning of religion and katholicism in South America and something that can connect thousands of people.
After also visiting Bolivia and Paraguay, delivering some two dozen speeches and saying several masses Francis finally returned to the Vatican.
His message of love and peace will hopefully continue longer than his visit. The pope stated out, “It is about turning from the path of selfishness, conflict, division and superiority, and taking instead the path of life, generosity and love”