Pope Francis waves from the popemobile upon arrival for an open-air mass at the Bicentennial Park in Quito, Ecuador, on July 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO BUENDIA
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In his homily, Francis praised families as the nucleus of society, calling them "the nearest hospital, the first school for the young, the best home for the elderly". He said miracles are performed every day inside a family out of love, but sometimes the love and happiness run out.The Vatican originally estimated more than 1 million people would turn out for the Mass, and government organizers put the crowd at above that figure in the hour before the service began.The primary school teacher came to the Mass with her older sister Pilar from Cuenca, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) away, spending the night in the park and then baking under the heat of the noontime Mass.Francis has dedicated the first two years of his pontificate to family issues, giving weekly catechism lessons on different aspects of family life and inviting the entire church to study ways to provide better pastoral care for Catholic families facing difficulties today, including people who are divorced, gays and families in "nontraditional" situations.After the open-air Mass, Francis had lunch with a group of Jesuits at a nearby high school.
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