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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video US Political Parties Face Challenge Motivating Hispanics

As November 4 midterm elections loom, Latino activists, who are mostly Democrats, say they are disappointed and angry with president over immigration reform
More

Photogallery Possible Suspect Named in Ottawa Shooting

Authorities searching for one or more suspects in incident on grounds of Canada's parliament building; one soldier and one gunman shot dead; one of the shooters reportedly a Canadian convert to Islam
More

Head of Mexican Cartel Appears in US Court

Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez was arrested by US federal agents while shopping in Texas
More

Egypt Sets Appeal Date for Al Jazeera Journalists

Journalists were convicted in July on charges of aiding terrorist organization in verdict condemned internationally
More

Canadian Soldier Dies in Car Attack Linked to Radical Islam

Police shoot and kill driver - suspected Islamic radical - after he rammed into two soldiers Monday in parking lot in Quebec province
More

UN Rights Chief Urges Venezuela to Free Opposition Leader

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein calls for release of Leopoldo Lopez and scores of others detained in a crackdown on protests that began in February
More