Pope Francis has landed in Brazil for a week-long visit, returning to Latin America Monday for the first time since becoming the 266th head of the Roman Catholic church in March.
The 76-year-old Argentine is the first pontiff from the Americas and is visiting the world's largest Roman Catholic country, where there has been a wave of anti-government protests in recent weeks. The former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was welcomed by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
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.
More than one million young Catholics are expected to flock to Rio de Janeiro to celebrate Pope Francis. His itinerary includes meetings with local and national leaders and events connected to Thursday's celebration of World Youth Day.
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 by police and the Brazilian army. 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.
The papal visit originally was planned for Francis's predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict, who resigned the papacy in February.
Vatican analysts, noting early speculation the new pope might cancel the trip because of Vatican scandals, are describing the visit as a way to direct attention to social justice issues that he 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.