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Pope plans busy schedule for trip to Rio, unworried by unrest in Brazil

Catholic World News - July 17, 2013

Pope Francis will face a crowded schedule during his visit to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day (WYD), but is not worried about security precautions in Brazil, Vatican officials have indicated.

At a July 17 press conference previewing the papal trip, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the schedule for the Pope’s trip has been expanded to include a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and a visit to the slums of Rio de Janeiro.

The visit to Brazil by the first-ever Pontiff from Latin America is sparking considerable excitement, the Vatican spokesman observed. He noted, however, that Pope Francis had not chosen South America as the site for his first major papal voyage. The schedule for WYD in Rio had been set well before this Pontiff was elected.

The Pope’s trip will stretch from July 22 to 28. Father Lombardi reminded reporters that the schedule had originally been set for Pope Benedict XVI, and the program was “less demanding” because of that Pontiff’s advance age and declining health. New events have been added to the schedule for Pope Francis, he said.

After announcing his plan to resign, Pope Benedict assured WYD that the next Pope would attend the celebration in Rio. By honoring that commitment, Father Lombardi said, “Pope Francis is assuming the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate.” Pope Benedict, similarly, had made his first papal voyage to Cologne, for the WYD celebration that had originally been scheduled by Pope John Paul II.

Despite the political unrest that has prompted demonstrations and even rioting in Brazilian cities, Father Lombardi said that the Pontiff has “total confidence” in ability of public officials to maintain security. Vatican officials have disclosed that the Holy Father will travel in the open-topped “popemobile” rather than in an armored car.

Brazilian political leaders have expressed greater concern about the possibility of disruptive protests during the papal visit. And WYD organizers have acknowledged that public concern about the current situation in Brazil has probably discouraged many people from attending the WYD celebrations.

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