2013-06-27 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) The Secretary General of Brazil’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Leonardo Steiner, has expressed optimism that calm will reign among participants at recent protests, some of which have turned violent, in Brazil. Pope Francis is due to preside World Youth Day Rio celebrations in the South American nation from July 23-28.
The Brazilian prelate told Vatican Radio “the protesters themselves are insisting that there be no violence.”
Speaking of last Friday’s meeting between members of the country’s Episcopal Conference and President Dilma Rousseff, Msgr Steiner said “The President of the Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis and I spoke with the President about World Youth Day and about the situation regarding the Indios. The meeting was very cordial.”
In comments to the press last week, the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro and president of the Local Organizing Committee for WYD Rio2013 said that he had been assured by public authorities, the protests will not affect World Youth Day. “WYD,” Archbishop João Tempesta Orani said, “is held in high esteem by all.”
For the Archbishop, the desire to build a better civilization that the peaceful demonstrators are bringing to the streets “is in some ways similar to the spirit of WYD - the desire to work together for a new world, for a new life, a new society. Catholic youth also have these same hopes and dreams, and they keep Christ in their hearts.”
“WYD is a positive event for young people. Youth who have values - Christian values, values that also seek to change the world and are rooted in justice and peace, and that can offer a different perspective on these demands for change here in Brazil,” the Archbishop said.
The protests began a few weeks ago in small numbers after the prices of public transport were raised, but they quickly gained momentum and popular support with calls for greater public services and an end to corruption. Though the protests have remained largely peaceful, some demonstrators have clashed with police.
Pilgrim safety Rio’s a top priority
Domenico Giani, Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie Police Force has praised the WYD preparations of colleagues in Rio. Earlier this week he went on record as saying “I think that there will not be any safety issues, whether for the Pope or for those in attendance as we are studying everything down to the smallest details, to all of the minutiae.”
On its website, the World Youth Day organization states that it “continues to focus on the safety of pilgrims as well as the general population during the event. A security protocol has already been created to divide responsibilities between the various security forces.”
Operations centers are being set up to guard tourist sites and constantly patrol train and metro stations. More than 200 agents will be distributed about these operations centers, and patrols are being increased around some 625 municipal schools. For the main events, there will be over 1,300 agents for Copacabana.