PANAMA CITY (AP) — Pope Francis insisted Thursday that public officials live simply, honestly and transparently as he opened a visit to a Central American region that has been rife with corruption scandals and is now coping with political upheaval in nearby Venezuela.

Francis didn't mention the Venezuela crisis during his first remarks in Panama after a meeting with President Juan Carlos Varela at the presidential palace. But his spokesman said he was following the situation closely, was praying for the Venezuelan people and supported "all efforts that help save the population from further suffering."

Francis stuck to his script in Panama, celebrating the country's place as bridge between oceans and cultures and holding up the region's newest saint, slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, as a model for a humble church that accompanies the poor.

He thanked the Panamanian government for "opening the doors of your home" to young pilgrims who have flocked here for World Youth Day, the Catholic Church's big youth rally and the reason for his visit.

(1) comment

Vladdy

This guy doesn't think walls work. Might I suggest he tear down the wall around the Vatican?

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