Pope Francis flew home to Rome from Paraguay Sunday, ending a week-long, three-nation visit to South America.
The first South American pontiff reinforced his place as spokesman for the world's disenfranchised Sunday by visiting a flood-prone slum.
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on a huge swampy field called Nu Guazu inside a military base. Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez were among the throngs of worshippers.
A special altar composed of 40,000 ears of corn, 200,000 coconuts and 1,000 squash gourds was constructed for the Mass, to honor Paraguay's native Guarani people and to show respect for the Earth, as Francis continued his call for worldwide environmental reforms.
The pontiff told the 15,000 slum inhabitants on the shores of the Paraguay River he could not leave the country without visiting them. Many of them are squatters who live in the barrio's plywood and corrugated metal shacks, as pigs rummage through the garbage for leftovers.
Watch related video report by Zlatic Hoke
During his visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, the pope spent much of the week criticizing the injustices of the global capitalist system and demanding a new economic model in which rich and poor share equally in the Earth's resources.