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Pope Francis set to arrive amid party atmosphere in Rio

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pope Francis lands in Brazil later today, ready to inspire a crowd of over one million well-wishers and over a billion Catholics watching from around the globe. World Youth Day celebrations begin tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (Catholic Online) - The festival atmosphere has largely replaced an earlier atmosphere of turmoil and desperation, brought about by weeks of civil unrest preceding the papal visit. Brazilians have been protesting high taxes, government corruption, and police tactics in the weeks prior.

Now, the country is more subdued as the spiritual leader to the majority of Brazil's population, which still identifies chiefly as Catholic, is set to arrive for a week of ceremonies and speeches.

More than one million people are expected to crowd the white sand beach of Rio's Copacabana where Pope Francis will say Mass.

The papal visit will see the Holy Father traveling through the streets of Rio in an open-top Mercedes jeep and visiting a slum. Both choices send a powerful message, that we are called to break down barriers between ourselves and others, even if doing so exposes us to the dangers of the world.

There are billions of people who are in need of love and care who are marginalized in many ways. Pope Francis has made a habit of approaching these people and calling others to follow him.

Pope Francis, perhaps to his annoyance, has been elevated to rock star status by the faithful, especially the youth who are inspired by him. His simple way of life, his casting off of worldly riches and comforts in exchange for a genuine life of labor among the poor and needy, has encouraged many whose faith had flagged before.

He has also dealt powerfully with scandals and corruption, taking a hard-line stance on issues that before had been either ignored, or barely addressed.

Tomorrow, the Holy Father will plunge himself entirely into the World Youth Day activities with all the vigor expected of South America's first pontiff. In the meantime, the world's youth streams onto the beaches in Rio. The rest of the world will watch and listen as no less than three satellites beams the Holy Father's message around the world, live.

Catholic Online will also post regular updates on the Holy Father's visit.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)