WYD in Rio: what is the media saying?

2013-07-27 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Our correspondent in Rio, Sean Patrick Lovett, takes a look at what the local media has to say about the ongoing World Youth Day events.

One thing that really stands out in headlines across the media spectrum, is how the Argentine Pope is conquering everybody - even the Brazilians (!) - with his warm and simple attitude and with the direct way he uses words...

Listen to Sean's report ...

Both local Rio papers, O Globo and O Estado de S.Paulo, publish articles that alternate between amazement at the number of people that participated in the Via Crucis at Copacabana (one a half million is the official figure) – and criticism of what they perceive as continuing WYD organizational glitches.

Let’s begin with the amazement. Here are some of the titles they use to express it: in them Pope Francis is described as “friend of faith”…”super star”…”stealer of hearts”… the one who ”saves the day” and who’s “sympathy and simplicity” and use of “popular language and personal contact” has won over the people of Brazil.

The criticism is a little less lyrical. Much of it is aimed at the persistent transportation difficulties. Crowds of young people trying to return home after the Copacabana event, ended up forming a line nearly a kilometre long trying to get into one of the main metro stations. And clearly not all of the residents of Copacabana Beach are delighted at the prospect of having over a million hyped-up young people dancing and singing on their prestigious doorstep either.

Restaurant-owners and street vendors aren’t complaining, but local home-owners are. Under the headline “Residents in revolt”, one interviewee claims he hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since the Rolling Stones held their famous concert there in 2006. (I’m not quite sure what the connection is between Mick Jagger and Pope Francis – but there you have it.)

Reading between the pages of both local dailies there are more interesting articles that provide reports on the Pope’s meeting with eight young prisoners at the Archbishop’s house on Friday morning. All of them comment on his reaction to receiving a giant rosary from them that commemorates the Candelària massacre of 20 years ago – and his words “Candelària nunca mais” (“never again”). They also return to the inevitable issue of security – which is… substantial…to say the least. If you really want to know: in order to get into work here at the international media centre every day, I have to pass no fewer than seven identification barriers, two metal detectors and, as of yesterday, a body search. And I’m an accredited Vatican journalist with special access credentials and a papal mandate.
Just imagine if I wasn’t.
SPL