Millennium Post

pope francis, Latin America’s first pontiff, heads to restive Brazil

Bringing his message of a ‘poor Church for the poor,’ Pope Francis headed for Brazil on Monday to find a country facing a shrinking Catholic flock and anger over government waste. Francis left Rome for Rio de Janeiro shortly before 0700 GMT, embarking on his first foreign trip abroad since becoming pontiff. In keeping with his trademark simplicity, the 76-year-old carried his own hand luggage onto the plane. ‘I am arriving in Brazil in a few hours and my heart is already full of joy because soon I will be with you to celebrate the 28th WYD,’ Francis tweeted after his departure.

Pilgrims from around the world were gathering in Rio for World Youth Day, arriving by bus from neighboring nations or landing by plane from across the ocean to greet the first pope from Latin America. As men in swim trunks and women in tiny bikinis dived in the waves, workers climbed scaffolding on Copacabana beach on Sunday to finish the ornate stage that the pope will use to greet throngs of young people on Thursday.   
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