Vatican City, 23 July 2013 (VIS) – At 3.40 p.m. yesterday (twenty minutes ahead of schedule) the aeroplane carrying the Pope landed at the carioca airport of Galeao where he was received by the president of the Republic of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, accompanied by the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Cabral Filho and the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes. The Pope was also greeted by Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, and Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida and president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil. It was a warm and informal welcome, without formal addresses, which were given later at the official welcome ceremony at Guanabara Palace.
The Holy Father travelled the eight kilometres from the airport to the presidential palace in a utility vehicle with the back window open to greet the crowd who thronged the route. During some parts of the journey the vehicle was forced to stop since there were no security cordons to hold back the crowd. Upon nearing the cathedral the vehicle was exchanged for the unarmoured Popemobile which will be used during the visit, and the route was unexpectedly changed to enable the Pope to greet the crowds who had awaited him for hours.
Upon 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 in the American continent.
He began, “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 … 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!”
The Pope went on to cordially greet the president for her warm welcome and said to the bishops that, by his visit to Brazil, he wished to “pursue the pastoral mission proper to the Bishop of Rome of confirming my brothers in their faith in Christ, of encouraging them to give an account of the reasons for the hope which comes from him, and of inspiring them to offer everyone the inexhaustible riches of his love”.
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”.
He emphasised that, in addressing the young, 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”.
After his address, Pope Francis met privately with the president and with the governor and major of Rio de Janeiro. He then transferred to the Sumare residence, which belongs to the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, where he will stay during his visit.
Today, Tuesday, the Pope will spend the day resting and acclimatising, and will resume activities tomorrow with a visit to the shrine of Aparecida, 200 kilometres from the Brazilian capital.