#CoolPope! Pope Francis returned to his native South America this week, and his current tour of Bolivia is proving that sometimes, the first Latin American pope really is Just Like Us! Giving an outdoor Mass to an audience of thousands at Christ the Redeemer Square in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on Thursday, July 9, the pontiff made a quick detour to a nearby Burger King.
However, the Catholic leader’s pitstop wasn't for a Whopper and fries. Pope Francis instead used the fast-food eatery to change into his vestments and bless the items he'd use in the open air service.
Alfredo Troche, who manages the BK, told The Associated Press that he was approached by the papal entourage, who "asked for help because this was an appropriate place and we had closed."
Covering the windows with white curtains, the restaurant stored the pope's chair and altar before and after the Mass. When interviewed by ABC News, a worker was optimistic that the papal visit would boost business.
And even after Pope Francis, 78, blasted consumerism in his Thursday homily, Burger King took to Facebook to tout his visit. In their social media message, posted before Pope Francis finished Mass, the fast-food giant thanked him "for choosing the BK restaurant as your sacristy."
Also on Thursday, His Holiness met with Bolivia's president Evo Morales during an appearance at a event with members of the World Meeting of Popular Movements, which aims to improve life for those at society's margins.
During the photo op, Francis — who once worked as a nightclub bouncer before joining the seminary — joked around and donned a sombrero gifted to him by Morales. On his hat was the word "Tahuichi," which from the Tupi-Guarani and means "Big Bird.”
Pope Francis will make his first visit to the United States in September. From Sept. 22-27, the pontiff will tour Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York, taking part in activities including a personal meeting with President Obama, a Mass at New York City's Madison Square Garden, and a visit to Independence Mall.
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