The Vatican Information Service is reporting that Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff and other dignitaries were on hand to greet the pope when he landed at Galeao airport in Brazil yesterday afternoon. Throngs of people lined the streets as he traveled the short distance to the presidential palace in a utility vehicle that was frequently stopped when enthusiastic crowds blocked its progress through the streets. He was then transferred into an unarmored Popemobile where he had more access to the people, some of whom had been waiting for hours to see him.
Upon his arrival at Guanabara Palace, Francis greeted the senior state and diplomatic representative and, after listening to the anthems of Brazil and Vatican City State, he gave his first address as Pope on the American continent.
“In his loving providence, God wished that the first international trip of my pontificate should take me back to my beloved Latin America, specifically to Brazil," he began.
"I have learned that, to gain access to the Brazilian people, it is necessary to pass through its great heart; so let me knock gently at this door. I ask permission to come in and spend this week with you. I have neither silver nor gold, but I bring with me the most precious thing given to me: Jesus Christ! I have come in his name, to feed the flame of fraternal love that burns in every heart; and I wish my greeting to reach one and all: The peace of Christ be with you!”
However, he continued, “the principal reason for my visit to Brazil goes beyond its borders. I have actually come for World Youth Day. I am here to meet young people coming from all over the world, drawn to the open arms of Christ the Redeemer. … These young people are from every continent, they speak many languages, they bring with them different cultures, and yet they also find in Christ the answer to their highest aspirations, held in common, and they can satisfy the hunger for a pure truth and an authentic love which binds them together in spite of differences. …
"Christ has confidence in young people and entrusts them with the very future of his mission, 'Go and make disciples'. Go beyond the confines of what is humanly possible and create a world of brothers and sisters! And young people have confidence in Christ: they are not afraid to risk for him the only life they have, because they know they will not be disappointed.”
In addressing the young, he emphasized that he is also speaking to “their families, their local and national church communities, the societies they come from, and the men and women upon whom this new generation largely depends.”
He recalled the saying, “'Our children are the apple of our eyes'. How beautiful is this expression of Brazilian wisdom, which applies to young people an image drawn from our eyes, which are the window through which light enters into us, granting us the miracle of sight! What would become of us if we didn’t look after our eyes? How could we move forward? I hope that, during this week, each one of us will ask ourselves this thought-provoking question. … Young people are the window through which the future enters the world, thus presenting us with great challenges. Our generation will show that it can realize the promise found in each young person when we know how to give them space; how to create the material and spiritual conditions for their full development; how to give them a solid basis on which to build their lives.”
Pope Francis concluded by asking everyone to “show consideration towards each other and, if possible, the sympathy needed to establish friendly dialogue.”
He added, “The arms of the Pope now spread to embrace all of Brazil in its human, cultural and religious complexity and richness. From the Amazon Basin to the pampas, from the dry regions to the Pantanal, from the villages to the great cities, no one is excluded from the Pope’s affection.”
Today will be spent resting and becoming acclimated to his surroundings with his schedule resuming on Wednesday.
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