July 22, 2013
Pope Francis Embraced on Arrival in Brazil
Tens of thousands of cheering faithful greeted Pope Francis Monday on his arrival in Brazil, mobbing a motorcade carrying the pontiff into central Rio de Janeiro at the start of a weeklong visit.
Video showed security officers struggling at several points to push back the joyous crowds, while the pope rolled down the window of his car to touch those who reached inside. One woman handed the pope an infant, whom he kissed before handing back.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and a host of dignitaries met the Argentine-born Francis -- the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio -- as he stepped off a commercial airliner to begin his visit.
This trip is the first by the 76-year-old pontiff since he became the 266th head of the Roman Catholic Church in March.
The visit to the coastal city and the return to his home continent is set to coincide with Thursday's international celebration of World Youth Day. More than 1 million young Catholics are expected to participate in the events.
The pontiff's schedule also includes a meeting with young inmates at a Rio prison and a visit to shantytowns largely cleared of drug traffickers earlier this year. He also will inaugurate a Rio hospital wing for the treatment of drug addicts and will pray at a shrine to Our Lady of Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil.
Aboard his flight from Rome, the pope told journalists he is worried that the world, with high jobless rates for young people, is running "the risk of having a generation without work," even though he said work confers dignity.
He also criticized the "culture of rejection" of the elderly, saying they should not be "thrown away" by cultures that concentrate on everything new.
The papal visit originally was planned for Francis' predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict, who resigned the papacy in February.
Ahead of the trip, Vatican analysts described it as a way to direct attention to social justice issues that Francis is seeking to make the centerpiece of his papacy.
The pope's visit comes at a time of social upheaval that began with protests in June against a bus fare increase in Sao Paulo. Those demonstrations quickly grew into massive street protests against government expenditures for hosting football's 2014 Word Cup, and then spread to include protests against official corruption.