Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, briefed journalists today on the Pope’s upcoming schedule on his visit to Brazil next week for World Youth Day. This will be Pope Francis’ first international visit since his election to the papacy.
The selection of Rio De Janeiro as the hosting city of the 28th World Youth Day was made by Pope Benedict XVI at the closing Mass of the previous WYD held in Madrid in 2011. Fr. Lombardi stated the occasion very significant that the Holy Father, who hails from Argentina, make his first trip to Latin America.
“Pope Francis while maintaining the same dates of the visit established by his predecessor has inserted new events within his visit that are of special significance to him,” Fr. Lombardi stated. One of the new events will be a visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida, the largest Marian shrine in the world. The visit, Fr. Lombardi said, is a personal act of devotion by the Holy Father.
The morning after his election, Pope Francis visited the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, consecrating his papacy to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Accompanying the Holy Father when he leaves on Monday will be Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and Cardinal João Bráz de Aviz, prefect for the Pontifical Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Upon his arrival in Brazil, the Holy Father will be greeted by President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and ecclesiastical authorities. He will then be taken to the Presidential Palace in Guanabara where a welcoming ceremony will take place and after the Holy Father will have a private meeting with the President of Brazil and the mayor of Rio de Janeiro.
During the week the Holy Father will also visit the “Pólo de Atenção Integrada da Saúde Mental (PAI),” a hospice which specializes in care for those suffering from drug addiction. this is a symbolic visit for the other institutions who work in this field,” Fr. Lombardi said, noting that representatives of various drug rehabilitation centers in Brazil will also be present.
Pope Francis will also visit one of Brazil’s many favelas, or slums. The community that was selected was Varginha favela, located in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro. Fr. Lombardi noted that this is not the first time a Pope has visited a favela, citing Blessed John Paul II’s visit to the Vidigal favela 33 years ago during his apostolic visit to Brazil.
The Pope’s first encounter with the youth attending WYD will be at the Opening ceremony which will be held at Copacabana where he will address those present.
The highlight of the week will be the vigil and closing mass that will be held in the Campus Fidei field in Guaratiba. Although Fr. Lombardi could not confirm how many youth are estimated to attend, the field he said has the capacity to accommodate 2 million people. When asked in what language the Holy Father will address the youth, Fr. Lombardi said that it is expected that the Holy Father will address everyone “half in portuguese, half in spanish.”
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For details on the Pope’s complete schedule in Brazil, go to: http://www.rio2013.com/en/news/details/1945/pope-francis-brazil-schedule