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

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Planning Post-2015 Development

UNDP official calls for investing in people
More

Magnitude 6.3 Quake hits Mexico, No Major Damages, Injuries

Earthquake hit southwest of Juan Rodriguez, in eastern Mexican state of Veracruz at a depth of 95 km (60 miles), the US Geological Survey says
More

California Governor on 3-day Trade Trip to Mexico

With immigration facilities bursting at the seams, Jerry Brown says child migration is on the agenda during his trade visit
More

UN Sanctions Operator of N. Korean Ship Caught Smuggling Arms

North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang was detained a year ago carrying arms, including two MiG-21 jet fighters, under thousands of tons of sugar
More

Argentina Seeks to Avoid 2nd Debt Default in 13 Years

Argentina says it will make another effort to reach a deal with a group of US creditors
More

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surge

Inaccurate claims suggest US will give amnesty to young migrants
More