World

Pope Francis flies to South America on 9-day pilgrimage, bring message of solidarity with poor

  • Police stand guard near a billboard of Pope Francis covered by the Spanish words: "With Francis. We announce the joy of the Gospel" as they train ahead of his arrival in El Alto, Bolivia, Saturday, July 4, 2015. The pope's trip to South America that includes Bolivia is set for July 5-12, though he will only spend four hours in Bolivia due to the altitude, church officials say. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

    Police stand guard near a billboard of Pope Francis covered by the Spanish words: "With Francis. We announce the joy of the Gospel" as they train ahead of his arrival in El Alto, Bolivia, Saturday, July 4, 2015. The pope's trip to South America that includes Bolivia is set for July 5-12, though he will only spend four hours in Bolivia due to the altitude, church officials say. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis greets several children upon his arrival to the Mariscal Sucre International airport in Quito Sunday July 5, 2015. History's first Latin American pope returns to Spanish-speaking South America for the first time on Sunday to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.(AP Photo/

    Pope Francis greets several children upon his arrival to the Mariscal Sucre International airport in Quito Sunday July 5, 2015. History's first Latin American pope returns to Spanish-speaking South America for the first time on Sunday to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.(AP Photo/  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis disembarks from his plane upon his arrival to the Mariscal Sucre International airport in Quito Sunday July 5, 2015. History's first Latin American pope returns to Spanish-speaking South America for the first time on Sunday to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

    Pope Francis disembarks from his plane upon his arrival to the Mariscal Sucre International airport in Quito Sunday July 5, 2015. History's first Latin American pope returns to Spanish-speaking South America for the first time on Sunday to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)  (The Associated Press)

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.