Pope Francis has waded into Brazil's ramshackle slums and onto the front line of its fierce national battle over poverty and corruption on Thursday, borne along by adoring crowds. The Argentine pontiff urged young Brazilians not to be discouraged in their fight for a fairer deal during a visit to a Rio shantytown, reports AFP on Yahoo7.
On the fourth day of his visit to Brazil, he was confronted with starkly contrasting images of life in the dramatic tropical metropolis.
To the obvious discomfort of his security detail, the pope traveled to Rio's northern slums in an open-sided vehicle, before walking the streets, glad-handing crowds and kissing babies.
Meanwhile, thousands of young people were flocking to the city's iconic Copacabana beachfront, a much wealthier district, braving wind and rain and preparing to welcome the pope to World Youth Day ceremonies.
'Dear young friends, you have a particular sensitivity towards injustice, but you are often disappointed by facts that speak of corruption on the part of people who put their own interests before the common good,' he said.
'To you and to all, I repeat: never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished. Situations can change, people can change,' he told thousands gathered under pelting rain on a soccer field in the Varginha slum.
Brazil was rocked by huge street protests last month, when more than a million people took to the streets to condemn corruption, poor public services and the cost of hosting the 2014 World Cup. The 1,000-resident Varginha slum is one of a dozen favelas where police have evicted drug gangs and restored security ahead of next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
The pope, referring to the police drive to restore security in the city's violence-wracked favelas, said tough security tactics are not a solution to poverty.