Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic World News

Pope Francis lands in Rio, begins WYD visit

July 22, 2013

Pope Francis landed in Rio de Janeiro on Monday afternoon, July 22, to begin the first international trip of his papacy, for World Youth Day (WYD).

From the airport, the Pope was driven-- in a Honda hatchback, rather than a bulletproof limousine—to the presidential palace, where he was to meet with President Dilma Roussel Linhares and other Brazilian political dignitaries. The papal motorcade, arriving at rush hour in Rio, proceeded at a snail’s pace, with the Pope greeting individuals in the crowd while security officials tried to clear a path for the vehicle.

“Young people today are in crisis,” the Pope said to reporters who accompanied him on the transcontinental flight. He voiced his concern about the many young people unable to find work, and said that unemployment prevents them from realizing their full human dignity. The Pope’s words on that subject were particularly relevant to Brazil, where young people have been prominent in angry demonstrations against government economic policies.

Saying that a young person should not be prevented from “earning his bread,” the Pope called for a “culture of inclusion,” as opposed to a “disposable culture.” He lamented that young people without jobs, like elderly people who no longer work, are often regarded as less important to society.

Young people should be recognized as part of society, the Pope said in his remarks on the plane. “Because when we isolate young people, we do them an injustice: we take away their ‘belonging.’” Young people, with their boundless energy, represent the future of a society, he said. At the same time, elderly people, because of their accumulated wisdom, are also important to the future. “A people has no future,” he said, “if it goes against the strength of its youth and its elderly.”

Pope Francis offered these thoughts to the reporters on his flight, but unlike previous Pontiffs, he did not take questions from media representatives during the flight. He explained that he found interviews “tiresome.” Instead he greeted each reporter individually, and told the journalists as a group that he looked forward to working with them. When one reporter joked that the Pope was entering the lion’s den when he spoke with the press, he replied that lions “weren’t so bad.”

Consistent with his deliberately simple approach, the Pope carried his own bag onto the Alitalia flight. Just before leaving Rome he sent out a message on his Twitter account: “I am arriving in Brazil in a few hours and my heart is already full of joy because soon I will be with you to celebrate the 28th WYD.”

On Sunday, at the conclusion of his regular Angelus audience, the Pope asked the faithful to support him with their prayers during his apostolic trip. He said: “All those who come to Rio want to hear Jesus’ voice, to listen to Jesus: 'Lord, what should I do with my life? What path I should take?'”

On Friday afternoon, July 19, Pope Francis visited his predecessor, Pope-emeritus Benedict, to ask his prayers for the success of the trip. The retired Pope—who had made the original plans for the WYD celebration in Brazil—said that he would be spiritually close to the events in Rio. The meeting lasted about two hours.


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  • Posted by: Defender - Jul. 22, 2013 4:47 PM ET USA

    Noticing the statistics of the Brazilians who have left the Church since 1970, it seems similar to other countries - a continuous slide downward from 92-65% (2010). Though there are many who don't like to think VII had anything to do with the world's slide away from Catholicism and that there were other things occurring in the world (in the U.S. there was Vietnam and the sexual revolution), one wonders how widespread these other factors were outside the U.S.?