Here are the latest developments from Pope Francis' trip to South America:

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9:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is in the air, heading to his native continent of South America on a nine-day pastoral pilgrimage.

The Alitalia plane flying Francis and his entourage to Quito, Ecuador, left Rome on Sunday at 9:15 a.m. (0715 GMT). The Argentine-born pope will also visit Bolivia and Paraguay. He returns to Rome on July 13.

History's first Latin American pope is returning with a message of solidarity with the region's poor, who are expected to turn out in droves.

"The pope of the poor" chose to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay because they are among the poorest and most marginal nations of a region that claims 40 percent of the world's Catholics. He's skipping his homeland of Argentina, at least partly to avoid papal entanglement in this year's presidential election.