(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis left Ecuador on Wednesday evening at the end of his brief visit to the nation, the first stop on his week-long pastoral visit to Latin America. Among those gathered at the airport in the capital, Quito, to bid farewell to the Pope en route for his next destination, Bolivia, was Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa.
Vatican Radio’s French correspondent on this papal journey, Olivier Bonnel spoke to the president following the Pope’s departure to talk about the lasting impact of the visit….
President Correa says the Pope’s message was very strong, very important for the people of Ecuador, in particular his words in the Church of St Francis where he spoke about gratuity, about giving and receiving freely. He spoke about poverty and those who are excluded from society….certainly this is a message which we will reflect on and try to put into practice, into concrete action.
Asked about the Pope’s words on ‘integral ecology’, the president notes that Ecuador’s constitution was the first in the history of humanity to speak of the rights of nature and the environment, just as the Pope’s encyclical speaks of water as a human right. I think the encyclical will be a very important document for the forthcoming summit on the environment in Paris, he adds.
The Ecuadoran leader also notes he was the only head of state to be invited to an international conference on the environment in the Vatican (organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences ahead of the release of ‘Laudato Si’), underlining all the work that his country is doing to protect nature and combat the effects of climate change.
President Correa believes that the moral authority of the Pope will achieve results at the Paris summit, but he says it will require strong action to tackle the political problems.