Pope in South America: Paraguayans upset over popemobile speed

Pope Francis rides on a Popemobile through a crowd of faithful at the Cristo Redentor square in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 9, 2015. Pope Francis, at a Mass for hundreds of thousands of people in Bolivia, said on Thursday that everyone had a moral duty to help the poor, and that those with means could not wish they would just "go away." (REUTERS)

Some Paraguayans are complaining that the driver of the popemobile had a heavy foot.

Comments are circulating on social media that the popemobile went too fast, leaving Paraguayans who had waited for hours on Asuncion streets to see Pope Francis only a fleeting glimpse of the pontiff as he sped by.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the vehicle traveled at that speed because they did not want a repeat of the delays seen in Ecuador and Bolivia, and that the Asuncion's airport was a greater distance from the presidential palace than in other cities.

Pope Francis has received from Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes a national soccer team jersey with the name ‘Papa Francisco’ and a white wool manta woven in the region where Jesuit missionaries worked in the South American country during the colonial era.

"Gifts without problems," said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi with a smile.

Lombardi's comment was a joking reference to the ‘Communist crucifix’, with a carved hammer and sickle, the pope received from Bolivian President Evo Morales. That gift clearly surprised the pope and led to raised eyebrows, though Bolivian officials denied the gift was a political maneuver. It had been designed by a Jesuit activist.


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