BY Martin Dunlop | July 26 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Rio welcomes Pope Francis to WYD events

POPE Francis has been greeted by thousands of pilgrims in Brazil since arriving for this week’s international World Youth Day 2013 celebrations.

The trip to the world’s most populous Catholic nation marks the Holy Father’s first foreign engagement since his election as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics in March.

Shortly after his arrival in Rio de Janeiro on Monday evening, where hundreds of thousands of young people are gathering for this week’s World Youth Day celebrations, Pope Francis urged pilgrims to ‘make disciples of all nations.’

“I came to meet young people coming from all over the world, drawn to the open arms of Christ the Redeemer,” he said, referring to Rio’s world famous statue of Jesus, which overlooks the city.

“They want to find a refuge in His embrace, right near His heart to hear His call clearly and powerfully.”

Following his arrival in his home continent of South America, the Argentinian Pope toured Rio in an open car and was then officially welcomed to Brazil by the country’s President, Dilma Rousseff, at the state governor’s palace.

As the SCO went to press, the Holy Father was preparing for a visit on Wednesday to the national Shrine of Our Lady of the Conception of Aparecida, between the cities of Rio and Sao Paulo, and to the St Francis of Assisi of the Providence of God Hospital in Rio. On Monday, the Brazilian military confirmed that a homemade ‘low power’ explosive device had been discovered at the national shrine and had been destroyed.

In the past few weeks and months, Brazil has seen a wave of protests against public service cuts and political corruption, led by the country’s young people, and many have protested against the cost of the World Youth Day celebrations being held in their country.

Speaking prior to his departure, however, Pope Francis warned that with economic hard times being used as an excuse not to hire young people, the world risks ‘tossing them aside and endangering its own future.’ The Holy Father added that he did not want World Youth Day 2013 to be a meeting with young people ‘in isolation,’ because ‘when we isolate them we do them an injustice.’

Following his engagements on Wednesday, Pope Francis was due to visit the Varginha shanty town community in Rio before attending the World Youth Day 2013 welcoming ceremony at Rio’s Copacabana beach.

Today, the Pope will visit young prisoners and, later on, lead the Way of the Cross on the Copacabana beach. On Saturday, he will meet with Brazil’s leaders in Rio before joining young people for a prayer vigil.

World Youth Day 2013 will conclude with Pope Francis celebrating Mass with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims on Sunday morning, during which he will announce where the next international World Youth Day gathering will be held.


—This story was published in full in the July 26 print edition of the SCO, available in parishes.



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