Rio de Janeiro (AsiaNews) - Entrusting their future to young people is not an option for the pope, but the basis to judge "our generation". Upon his arrival in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis was met by the warmth of a people that repeatedly stopped his motorcade (pictured) as it drove through the streets of the city. At the same time, he rapidly found a way to "explain" the meaning he wants to give to his presence at the 28th World Youth Day.
"Our generation," he said during the welcome ceremony, "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; how to guarantee their safety and their education to be everything they can be; how to pass on to them lasting values that make life worth living; how to give them a transcendent horizon for their thirst for authentic happiness and their creativity for the good; how to give them the legacy of a world worthy of human life; and how to awaken in them their greatest potential as builders of their own destiny, sharing responsibility for the future of everyone.
After landing at Rio's airport at 4 pm, the pope was welcomed by Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Church leaders and Rio de Janeiro State authorities.
No official ceremony was held at the airport, but two children gave the Pontiff some flowers and a children's choir sang, including the anthem of World Youth Day, receiving the joyous applause of the pope and all those present.
Following protocol, Francis left the airport on his way to Guanabara Palace for the official Welcoming Ceremony, an eight-kilometre drive along streets crowded with people.
Travelling in a small car, the pope's motorcade was blocked by crowds several times. He then climbed into an unprotected jeep in order to be closer to the faithful. As is often the case in Rome when he holds his audiences, the pope stopped the vehicle several times to bless children brought to him. Eventually, he reached the seat of the state government by helicopter.
Responding to the president's greetings, Francis thanked Providence because "God wished that the first international trip of my pontificate should take me back in my beloved Latin America".
"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!"
"As you know," he added, "the main 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. They want to find a refuge in his embrace, close to his heart, listen again to his clear and powerful appeal: 'Go and make disciples of all nations'."
"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 offers them space, knowing that there is no force more powerful than the one released from the hearts of young people when they have been conquered by the experience of friendship with him. 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."
"As I begin my visit to Brazil, I am well aware that, in addressing young people, I am 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."
"Here it is common for parents to say, '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."
"As I conclude, I ask everyone to show consideration towards each other and, if possible, the sympathy needed to establish friendly dialogue. The arms of the pope now spread to embrace all of Brazil in its human, cultural and religious complexity and richness."