Pope seeks to end stigma of AIDS with visit to church home

Pope Francis is wrapping up his first trip to Central America with a final World Youth Day Mass and a visit to a church-run home for people suffering from AIDS

PANAMA CITY -- Pope Francis is wrapping up his first trip to Central America with a final World Youth Day Mass and a visit to a church-run home for people living with AIDS.

Francis' meeting Sunday with HIV-positive residents of the Casa Hogar El Buen Samaritano is likely to send a strong message in Panama, where the virus carries a stigma.

"Many of the people we help here have been rejected by their families, by people in the street," said the Rev. Domingo Escobar, the home director. "But here they receive Christian help, as the church wants."

Francis was heading to the home after celebrating a morning Mass for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims at Panama City's Metropark area — scheduled early so the pilgrims can escape the searing heat.

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