In this week’s coverage of final preparations for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, based on public comments made by Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, several details have been surprisingly buried in the reportage (and even more surprisingly, not even mentioned in John Allen, Jr’s NCR coverage of Lombardi’s comments). I’m referring to a few important events added to the schedule at the request of Francis himself, which bear his distinctive marks. The Associated Press reports:
Francis has a busy schedule in Brazil, including a one-day trip to the popular Marian shrine in Aparecida, between Rio and Sao Paolo, a visit with patients at a hospital for the poor and another with juvenile offenders. A highlight will be a walk-through of one of Rio’s slums, or favelas, where Francis is expected to stop inside one home and chat with a family, Lombardi said.
Italy’s La Stampa is reporting at its Vatican Insider website that the Pope personally “asked for [these] new events to be added to the schedule.” It is, to my mind, more evidence of the “option for the poor” that Francis has made an important part of his papal ministry.