RIO DE JANEIRO — Affirming the “great heart” of the Brazilian people, Pope Francis said at a welcome ceremony that he comes to World Youth Day in the name of Jesus to encourage fraternal love among humanity.
“I ask permission to come in and spend this week with you,” Pope Francis told the assembled representatives of the Brazilian nation. “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!”
Shortly after landing at Rio de Janeiro's international airport on July 22, Pope Francis spoke at a ceremony at the governmental palace of the state of Rio de Janeiro. He was welcomed by the state governor and by the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff.
He expressed gratitude for God's “loving Providence” which had allowed that his first international trip as pope “should take me back to my beloved Latin America.”
Pope Francis then greeted the bishops present, Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro and Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida.
He acknowledged his Petrine office, saying that, “with this visit, I wish 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.”
Bond of Love
Pope Francis then turned his attention to the young people whom he has come to see in this week, who are “drawn to the open arms of Christ the Redeemer” and find refuge “in his embrace, close to his heart.”
Despite the many cultures and languages from which World Youth Day pilgrims come, the Bishop of Rome said that “a pure truth and an authentic love” will “bind them together.”
“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.'”
He said that his generation is called to “create the material and spiritual conditions” which will encourage youth's “full development” and “give them a solid basis on which to build their lives.”
“How to pass on to them lasting values that make life worth living,” he added. “How to give them a transcendent horizon for their thirst for authentic happiness and their creativity for the good … and how to awaken in them their greatest potential as builders of their own destiny, sharing responsibility for the future of everyone.”
Pope Francis concluded by exhorting all the World Youth Day pilgrims “to show consideration towards each other” and “the sympathy needed to establish friendly dialogue.”
He then spread his arms to “embrace all of Brazil” in its complexity and richness, “from the Amazon Basin to the pampas,” the lowland plains that cover southern Brazil, and his own city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“No one is excluded from the Pope's affection,” the Pope assured.
He gave his blessing, and he promised to “remember all of you before Our Lady of Aparecida,” patroness of the nation of Brazil.