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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

As Fires Die Down, Chileans Return to Ravaged Valparaiso

Many of victims in the city, part gritty port and part colorful retreat, were poor people in houses perched high on the city's remote hills
More

Kidnapped Venezuelan Journalist Freed

Globovision television journalist Nairobi Pinto was freed in city of Cua, 8 days after being kidnapped near her home in Caracas
More

Canada Taxpayer Data Stolen in Heartbleed Breach

Private information of about 900 people stolen from nation's computer systems as result of vulnerabilities
More

Photogallery At Least 12 Killed in Chile Fire

President declares state of emergency as firefighters battle blaze in port city of Valparaiso
More

36 Killed in Fiery Mexico Bus Crash

Four people reportedly injured in fire which erupted after the vehicle crashed into a broken down truck
More

Huge Fire Burns in Chile's Historic Port City

Firefighters struggle to contain blaze in Valparaiso, which so far has killed 16 people and destroyed 500 homes
More