Pope Francis has visited the Peruvian seaside town of Trujillo, a region still healing from devastating floods that took place a year ago.
The area of northern Peru is frequently affected by El Nino storms, was hit last year by flooding that killed more than 150 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes.
Welcomed by dancers, the faithful hope his visit will draw attention to their plight and speed up the reconstruction in the wake of the worst environmental damage Peru has suffered in almost twenty years.
At a seaside Mass for some 200,000 faithful Francis said he wanted to come to the area to pray with those who lost everything and who must also contend with the “other storms that can hit these coasts, with devastating effects on the lives of the children of these lands.”
"Just as the apostles faced the storm on the sea, you had to face the brunt of the "Niño costero" whose painful consequences are still present in so many families, especially those who are not yet able to rebuild their homes. This is also why I wanted to be here and to pray with you."
He cited organized violence and contract killings, a major problem in Peru and in the north in particular.
He said Peruvians have shown life’s greatest problems can be confronted when the community comes together “to help one another like true brothers and sisters.”
Francis is the second pope to visit the coastal city that is periodically drenched by disastrous rains caused by a warming of Pacific Ocean waters.
Pope John Paul II came here in 1985, during a decade in which Peru was afflicted not only by just El Nino floods but also hyperinflation and political violence.
His visit to Trujillo province, some 350 miles north of Lima, was a change of pace after a politically charged first day in the Latin American country where he condemned 'great business interests' for endangering the Amazon and its tribes.