.- The director of the Vatican press office said that several major themes can be seen throughout Pope Francis’ addresses during World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
What we are seeing during this Papal trip, said Fr. Federico Lombardi, are “key expressions that are emerging as the marks of this pontificate.”
These are phrases and concepts that have already been part of Pope's Francis' papacy, but are now finding particular expression, he explained at a July 27 press briefing.
One of these major expressions is the repeated call for a “culture of encounter” rather than a “throw-away culture” that discards and marginalizes people.
The Holy Father most recently made an appeal for this cultural shift at Rio’s Municipal Theatre, where he met July 27 with a group of Brazil’s political, cultural, religious and academic leaders.
He also issued a call to “rehabilitate politics” and spoke on the necessity of “social humility” in working towards dialogue, two phrases that Fr. Lombardi highlighted.
The Vatican spokesman applauded the gathering at the theater for including “the little people, the ordinary folks” from Brazilian society, saying that it was truly a meeting “of the Pope with the whole society of Brazil.”
Fr. Lombardi also emphasized the lunch that Pope Francis had with the country’s bishops on Saturday afternoon.
The address that the Holy Father delivered there - which was untelevised - was “not an ordinary talk,” he said. Rather, the lengthy and highly structured remarks constituted “the most important talk, perhaps, of the pontificate thus far.”
Nor were the Holy Father’s words limited to World Youth Day, he continued. Instead, they served “to set forward an agenda, an orientation, to inspire (the bishops), and to let them know of the great mission and work to which they are called.”
During the press briefing, Fr. Lombardi also spoke about the previous night's Way of the Cross re-enactment ceremony, describing it as an “incredible presentation.”
According to local authorities, 1.5 million people attended the event, covering the entire beach of Copacabana.
“The Pope appreciated very much how the stations made the story contemporary,” showing the modern troubles that young people face and linking them with the sufferings of Christ, Fr. Lombardi said.
The spokesman also noted the presence of 35 garbage collectors from Argentina at the stations. These individuals work in a landfill and have “great friendships” with the Pope, who had personally invited them to attend World Youth Day and greeted them when he saw them.
In his remarks during the Stations of the Cross, the Holy Father also remembered the more than 200 young Brazilians who were killed in a night club in Santa Maria six months ago.
Fr. Lombardi said the bishop of Santa Maria was grateful that the Pope remembered the tragedy and added that the last surviving victims of the fire had been released from the hospital earlier that day.