Pope John Paul the Second arrived in Santo Domingo on Thursday (25 January) on his first overseas visit since becoming Pope, and called for justice for all in Latin America.
SV Pope John Paul the Second at Rome's Fiumicino airport in departure lounge
SV Pope greeting church officials at airport (TWO SHOTS)
SV Pope addressing crowd in Italian
LV Dominican Republic: Pope's plane on tarmac in Santo Domingo
SV TO SCU Pope down steps of aircraft and kissing ground
SV Pope along tarmac up to platform to greet President Antonio Guzman and his wife (TWO SHOTS)
The Bishops' conference in the Eastern Mexican city of Puebla, will be officially inaugurated by the Pope with a Mass in Mexico city on Saturday (27 January). The conference will discuss whether the church should involve itself more directly in the social, economic and political problems of the region, or confine itself to an essentially evangelical role.
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Background: Pope John Paul the Second arrived in Santo Domingo on Thursday (25 January) on his first overseas visit since becoming Pope, and called for justice for all in Latin America. He is on his way to Mexico, where he will open a Bishop's Conference to discuss the controversial role of the church in the continent. He said he had embarked on this trip with the hope for a life of growing human well-being in Latin America "in a climate of morality, with justice for all."
SYNOPSIS: Pope John Paul the Second and his entourage had an early start when they left from Rome's Fiumicino airport. It was the first major papal visit abroad since the late Pope Paul went to Australia in 1970.
The Pope, whose party included some sixty reporters and photographers, will fly on Friday (26 January) to Mexico city, where millions are expected to turn out for his arrival. And the tour will reach its highlight on Sunday, when the Pope joins the leaders of Latin America's three hundred and fifty million Roman Catholics at the Bishops' conference in Pueblo. He said farewell at Rome airport to the Italians, who have taken warmly to his informal style.
The Pope personally chose Santo Domingo for the opening stage of his tour.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus celebrated the first mass in the new world on the Caribbean Island, and, from here, the Christian religion spread through Latin America. In an emotional gesture, the Pope knelt and kissed the earth moments before a twenty-one gun salute crashed out.
The Pope was greeted by President Antonio Guzman and his wife. later at the airport, the Pope said Latin America was a vital area for his church's future. During his twenty-one hour stay here, Pope John Paul the Second was to celebrate mass in the city's central square, with an anticipated crowd of more than eight-thousand celebrants.