News / Americas

    Pope Scolds Rich, Demands Social Justice in Visit to Brazil Slum

    Pope Francis greets residents of Varginha slum inside the local church, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 25, 2013.
    Pope Francis greets residents of Varginha slum inside the local church, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 25, 2013.
    Reuters
    Pope Francis on Thursday issued the first social manifesto of his young pontificate, telling slum dwellers in Brazil that the world's rich must do much more to wipe out vast inequalities between the haves and the have-nots.

    The pope also urged Brazil's youth, who have taken part in recent protests showing discontent with the status quo, to keep alive their “sensitivity towards injustice” and be a catalyst in the fight against corruption.

    The first Latin American pope, who has rallied the Church on behalf of the poor and who lives more austerely than his predecessors, called for a “culture of solidarity” to replace the “selfishness and individualism” prevailing in modern society.

    “No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world,” he told residents of Manguinhos, a sprawling shantytown, or favela, of ramshackle brick dwellings that until recently was overrun by violence and controlled by drug lords.

    His speech, under rains that have persisted throughout most of his first trip abroad as pope, came halfway through a  week-long visit around World Youth Day, a gathering of young Catholics that is expected to attract more than a million faithful to Rio de Janeiro and nearby sites.

    Lifeguards patrol offshore as Catholic pilgrims await the arrival of Pope Francis on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 25, 2013.Lifeguards patrol offshore as Catholic pilgrims await the arrival of Pope Francis on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 25, 2013.
    x
    Lifeguards patrol offshore as Catholic pilgrims await the arrival of Pope Francis on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 25, 2013.
    Lifeguards patrol offshore as Catholic pilgrims await the arrival of Pope Francis on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 25, 2013.
    Despite the downpours and unusually chilly weather, tens of thousands of rapturous Brazilians and foreign visitors have turned out to welcome the pope. The World Youth Day events are an effort by the Vatican to inspire Catholics at a time when rival denominations, secularism and sexual and financial scandals continue to lead some to abandon the Church.

    Brazil, home to the world's biggest population of Catholics with over 120 million faithful, is an apt locale for the pope to remind the world of inequality. A recent decade of economic growth in the country raised incomes for many, but tens of millions of Brazilians still live in poverty or with little more than the basics to get by.

    In Manguinhos, Francis, an Argentine known for frequent outings into the slums near Buenos Aires even as a cardinal, smiled and visibly enjoyed the chaotic close contact allowed with residents there. He called for more efforts to end poverty and said authorities must do more than just crack down on the drug trade to ensure opportunities for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

    “Everybody, according to his or her particular opportunities and responsibilities, should be able to make a personal contribution to putting an end to so many social injustices,” he said in an address on a muddy, rain-drenched soccer field next to a river smelling of sewer water.

    Making the speech after blessing the favela's small chapel and visiting one of its homes on a recently cleaned street, the pope challenged the rich and powerful to use their influence to enact lasting change.

    “I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources, to public authorities and to all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity!” he said.

    Reflecting his humble personal style, Francis said he would like to have been able to stop in every Brazilian home “to ask for a glass of cold water, to take a cafezinho, but not a shot of cachaEca,” a mention of Brazilian rum that drew laughter from the crowd.

    Driving in an open popemobile, Francis was surrounded by a throng of residents, some barefoot, and leaned out to kiss a woman and shake extended hands as he entered the slum, where there was a heavy presence of police and military.

    • Pope Francis arrives to a farewell ceremony at the Rio de Janeiro airport, July 28, 2013.
    • People pack Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro for Pope Francis' final mass for World Youth Day, July 28, 2013.
    • Clergy attend a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on the Copacabana beachfront, in Rio de Janeiro, July 28, 2013.
    • A pilgrim wakes up after a night of vigil in Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, July 28, 2013.
    • Nuns and a priest take pictures as Pope Francis arrives at Sao Joaquim Palace in Rio de Janeiro, July 26, 2013. 
    • Thousands of young people gather at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Copacabana beachfront on July 25, 2013 for the welcoming of Pope Francis to World Youth Day ceremonies.
    • Pope Francis delivers a speech during a visit to the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, July 25, 2013.
    • People greet Pope Francis as he visits the Varginha slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 25, 2013.
    • A crowd waits for the Pope  to arrive at the Varginha slum in Rio de Janeiro, July 25, 2013.
    • A patient kisses the hand of Pope Francis at the Hospital Sao Francisco in Rio de Janeiro, July 24, 2013.
    • Thousands of young pilgrims gather on Copacabana Beach for a World Youth Day Mass in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23, 2013.
    • Pope Francis greets the crowd of faithful from his popemobile in downtown Rio de Janeiro, July 22, 2013.
    • Youth from France, Venezuela and Canada who are in Brazil for World Youth Day events sing songs as they ride in a train that travels to Corcovado mountain where the statue Christ the Redeemer stands over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23, 2013.
    • Pope Francis kisses a baby while greeting the crowd of faithful from his popemobile in downtown Rio de Janeiro, July 22, 2013.
    • Pope Francis shakes hands with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff after receiving a painting of Rio de Janeiro during a welcoming ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, July 22, 2013.

    'Pacification' of poor not enough

    The pope praised Brazil's efforts over the last decade to reduce poverty in Latin America's largest nation, which last month was rocked by massive protests against corruption, the misuse of public money and the high cost of living.

    But he said more needed to be done to bridge the gap between rich and poor at the root of social injustice, in a reference to the police occupation of Rio's slums started last year to “pacify” drug-related violence.

    “No amount of 'pacification' will be able to last, nor will harmony and happiness be attained in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins or excludes a part of itself,” he said.

    Manguinhos, home to about 35,000 poor people, was known locally as “Gaza Strip” for its frequent shootings. It is one of the slums that have been part of a community policing operation that has reduced violence in the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro.

    “In those days, I never knew when I entered the church if I would be alive when I got out,” said Father Marcio Queiroz, pastor of the local chapel. “It was like a fruit market but instead of selling fruit on the tables on the street there was guns, crack and other drugs.”

    At one end of the sports field where Francis spoke hung a huge painting of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, who often denounced repression and poverty in his weekly homilies and was murdered by a right-wing death squad in 1980.

    Francis has decided to unblock the beatification process for Romero, the penultimate step before Catholic sainthood.

    From the slum, Francis traveled to Rio's modern cathedral, where he received a roaring welcome from tens of thousands of young people from his native country who were in Rio for the Catholic jamboree.

    On Thursday evening he is to welcome participants in the World Youth Day from a stage on the crescent shaped Copacabana beach. More than one million people are expected for the event.

    On Sunday, he presides at the close of World Youth Day in a pasture outside Rio before leaving for Rome that evening.

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Frank Australia
    July 25, 2013 6:25 PM
    What a wonderful example to the world ,a true Christian man and the worlds pope.Those who have Christ in their life ,have hope,love,faith and reason to live.The faithful in South America are inspiring to all.I have experienced this faith at Mass in many humble churches their.The devotion to Mary and the rosary ,their Christian life styles .....wonderful ! The Holy Spirit is alive in Brazil.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.

    More Americas News

    USOC: US Athletes Should Stay Home if Worried About Zika Virus

    United States Olympic Committee tells US sports federations that athletes and staff concerned for their health over Zika virus should consider not going to Rio 2016 Olympic Games

    Haiti's President Leaves Office Without a Successor

    Embattled Haitian President Michel Martelly left office Sunday as required by Haiti's constitution, ending his 5-year term with no one elected to replace him

    'Revenant's Inarritu Wins Top Directors Guild Prize

    Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's win, with only weeks to go before Academy Awards on February 28, leaves race as wide open as ever

    Colombia: 3,100 Known Zika Cases in Pregnant Women

    But Santos says in televised address in his country that there's still no evidence definitively linking the virus to microcephaly in newborns

    Pope to OK Use of Indigenous Languages for Mass in Mexico

    Move before trip to the country next week is symbolic gestures in defense of Indian rights

    Ecuador Sacks Military Top Brass Over Questioned Land Deal

    Armed Forces apparently sold 66 lots to Environment Ministry for $48 million, but report from Attorney General's office says they were worth only $7 million