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Massive crowds bring pope's cavalcade to a standstill

Joyous chaos as Pope Francis arrives in Rio

<p>Picture: Catholic News Service</p>

Picture: Catholic News Service

  • Francis X. Rocca for Catholic News Service
  • Brazil
  • July 23, 2013
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Hundreds of thousands of cheering people welcomed Pope Francis to Brazil July 22 as he made the first international trip of his pontificate to his native region of Latin America.

The papal plane touched down at Rio's international airport at 3:43 p.m. local time, and the pope emerged 18 minutes later to cheers from a relatively small group, which included a children's choir.

After exchanging greetings with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and other dignitaries for 15 minutes, the pope entered a compact Brazilian-made Fiat Idea for the ride downtown, accompanied by security vehicles and helicopters overhead.

At some points, the motorcade was separated from ordinary rush-hour commuters by nothing more than a median strip. As the pope's car drew closer to the center, he passed increasingly large groups of people standing, cheering and waving. About 20 minutes into the ride, clusters of people began pressing against the vehicle, reaching out to touch the pope, and had to be pushed away by the security detail. At one point, the press of crowds brought the vehicle briefly to a standstill, and the pope emerged to kiss a baby.

Apparently attempting to avoid the crowds, the motorcade turned into a stretch of ordinary traffic. Shortly thereafter the papal car found itself repeatedly stuck between vehicles and crowds. Security officers could be seen vigorously pushing back bystanders who reached out to touch the pope.

The 13.2-mile ride took 44 minutes.

At the city's cathedral, the pope boarded an open popemobile. Joined by Rio's Archbishop Orani Tempesta, he made a 25-minute circuit of downtown streets. Crowds contained behind police barriers cheered and waved as confetti rained down on the pope, who occasionally stopped to kiss a baby or small child.

Full Story: Crowds in Rio swarm pope, who wanted to be 'close to the people'

Source: Catholic News Service

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