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Paraguayan slum recently visited by Pope Francis has flooded

July 30, 2015
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A boy walks past a drenched soccer field in front of the San Juan Bautista chapel in the Banado Norte neighborhood, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Thursday, July 30, 2015. "It's a blessing that the flood hit us after the Pope's visit," said Francisco Rodriguez, president of the neighborhood committee that made preparations to receive Pope Francis last July 12. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
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A boy walks past a drenched soccer field in front of the San Juan Bautista chapel in the Banado Norte neighborhood, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Thursday, July 30, 2015. "It's a blessing that the flood hit us after the Pope's visit," said Francisco Rodriguez, president of the neighborhood committee that made preparations to receive Pope Francis last July 12. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Floods are forcing thousands of people to flee their homes in a slum near Paraguay’s capital that was recently visited by Pope Francis.

Even the soccer field where Francisco spoke on July 12 is underwater, and people nearby are wading through floodwaters to carry belongings and small children to safety.

While visiting, Francis called on Catholics and others to do more to improve such marginalized neighborhoods.

The banks of the Paraguay River periodically burst after heavy rains, flooding a zone where authorities estimate tens of thousands live in extreme poverty.

Francisco Rodriguez heads one of the neighborhood groups that helped welcome Francis and he said Thursday “it’s a blessing” at least that the river didn’t rise before the papal visit.

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