Pope Francis' First Apostolic Visit Brings a New Take on World Youth DayBy Junno Arocho Esteves
Francis standing in line with other passengers carrying his own bag - on his way to Brazil. A Rare sight for a Pope!!!
ROME, July 23, 2013 (Zenit.org) - As the Alitalia flight carrying Pope Francis landed in Rio de Janeiro, a palpable excitement filled the air as hundreds of thousands filled the streets of Brazil and millions following on TV and Internet, awaited the arrival of the first Latin American Pope in South America.
Journalists present on the plane stated that the Holy Father, in true humble fashion, asked permission to enter Brazil before descending from the plane. Welcoming Pope Francis was President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, civil authorities and prelates from the country. A children’s choir welcomed the Pope with songs, bringing a smile to the Pontiff’s face has he paused to listen.
Many were surprised as the Holy Father stepped inside a small Fiat Idea, not the usual automobile choice for a papal visit. Already this was an indication that this papal visit was going to be very different from any others.
The styles of both Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI were just as humble and friendly as Francis, the only difference being is that they followed the normal protocols set in place for their protection: bullet proof cars, routes along cordoned areas, etc.
Many use Pope Francis’ humble style as a subtle dig at his predecessors for what they consider extravagant luxuries afforded to a Bishop of Rome who speaks on the need to help the poor from a golden throne.
They couldn’t be more wrong. The successor to Peter doesn’t “own” those luxuries, no more than a person hired for a greater position in their company doesn’t “own” their new office with the beautiful view outside their window.
Pope Francis simply chooses to continue his way of doing things as he’s always had when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. And this simple act is drawing the attention of millions as evidenced yesterday when the papal motorcade came to a standstill as the Pope’s car was surrounded by faithful wishing to greet him.
Even more surprising, the Pope didn’t hide; on the contrary, he kept his window open, greeting people as if nothing. The Pope’s security detail, however, broke a sweat.
It may seem irresponsible for some, or even careless that a man of the Pope’s stature be allowed to be swarmed like that but it truly is a testament to the bravery of Francis. It takes only one disgruntled or mentally unstable person to mix in with the crowd and endanger his life, yet he doesn’t shy away. He opens his window and extends his hand. He wants to be a part of their lives, he wants to comfort them; a shepherd 'who smells like his sheep.'
This is the beauty of the World Youth Day. Looking back at the past 30 years, we see the scope of God’s love through the Apostolic Visits. Blessed John Paul II brought the peace of God to the Soul, Benedict XVI challenged youth to love God with all their Minds, and now Francis brings the message of God’s love to people’s Hearts.
World Youth Day 2013: Head of State Pope Francis Carries Own Luggage Bag, Falls in Line, Waits For Turn to Board Aircraft
Consistently shunning preferential treatment and special attention, Pope Francis has done what most heads of state would not. For his first overseas international trip since becoming the 266th pontiff, Pope Francis opted to carry his own luggage bag, fall in line and then wait for his turn to board commercial aircraft Alitalia for his week-long visit to Brazil in celebration of the World Youth Day 2013 festivities in his home continent.
Pope Francis, who has already arrived in Brazil, left Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport on Monday with an imprint consistent of how he manages the daily affairs of his post.
Walking towards a specially-arranged Alitalia flight that will carry him, his entourage as well as some journalists who will cover his every move while in Brazil, no-frills and no-nonsense Pope Francis conveyed the attitude of a regular flight traveler. He carried his own black luggage!
As he carried it with his left hand, his right hand kept busy shaking the hands of the dignitaries, among them Italian Premier Enrico Letta, who came up to send him off and convey their well-wishes.
And as the entourage got stuck at the end of the tarmac, the first Latin American pontiff just casually waited for his turn to board Alitalia, still carrying his own bag.
The bag, according to the hoard of photographers present during the send-off, was "a slightly worn-looking black leather bag."
Even the Catholic News Agency perhaps shocked over the latest gesture of the pontiff, said that "no Pope in recent memory has carried his own bag."
Pope Francis is not only the overall spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church, he is also the head of state of Vatican City, a sovereign city-state entirely enclaved within the city of Rome.