Pope Francis has left Rome this Monday morning for Brazil for his first foreign trip, on the occasion of World Youth Day (WYD) in Rio.
The pontiff will be greeted by some two million young people from all over the world present in Rio de Janeiro for this twenty-eighth World Youth Day.
Still have not stepped foot on Brazilian soil that already Pope Francis has changed the cards on the table in the itinerary of his trip for World Youth Day. Just landed at the airport Galeão, the Holy Father will not meet with the authorities - as expected from the beginning of May - but will go directly to greet the crowd of the faithful gathered in the streets. The meeting with the President Dilma Rousseff and Rio's governor Sérgio Cabral will then take place later in the Guanabara Palace. There the Pope will arrive from the airport (about 8 km) in open car in order to have an easier contact with young people.
This is the first time that the 76-year-old Argentine Jesuit tread the soil of the New World since he took over in March to Benedict XVI at the head of a Church.
In Brazil, the largest Catholic country in the world, Pope Francis will try to reinvigorate a Church weakened and disoriented by the surge of evangelical Pentecostal churches, omnipresent and very active in the major cities and deprived suburbs. The pope, who has already spoken out against "the tyranny of money" and irresponsible elites, will probably also try to touch the fiber of young Brazilians who have expressed overwhelmingly in June, sometimes violently, against the paucity of public services and corruption in the country.
On Sunday, thousands of young pilgrims bearing the flags of their countries invaded happily walk from the famous Copacabana Beach. However, the Pope's visit is also facing a lot of criticism: atheists and the Rio Anonymous activists have called for demonstrations on his arrival at the governor's palace against the public expenditure for WYD (over 30 million euros).