Francis “has shown since he’s been pope that it’s very important to be humble,’’ he said. “I expect this will be a very humbling experience.’’
This World Youth Day comes at a time when the numbers of faithful are eroding. Reaching out to young people and staying connected to them well beyond Rio will be one of the goals.
Church and event organizers are using multiple social media tools to get out the word about the event, which includes some 600 activities from masses, prayer vigils, catechism classes and church tours to music, dance, exhibitions, 150 film screenings and hikes.
“Evidently the biggest challenge now is for the church to get a moment of attention from young people, to be in touch with youth, because young people are attracted by so many interests, so many references, and it’s not always so easy for the Church… to be able to get into their hearts — to have that little door open in order to speak, to guide,’’ São Paulo Archbishop Dom Odilo Pedro Scherer told TV Globo in a recent interview.
“The great challenge for the Church is, therefore, to make this happen, to make young people feel in tune with, to feel welcomed by, to feel at home in the Church,’’ he said.
To stay in tune with the new generation, Pope Francis will be tweeting, and there’s a phone app, Twitter account, Facebook page and websites for World Youth Day. Pilgrims will even be able to send their pictures direct to the Holy Father in an online diary.
En route to Rio on the papal plane, Francis told reporters Monday that what is needed today is a “culture of inclusion, a culture of encounter.”
Rivas’ sister Maria Rivas, 31, also made the trip to Rio. As a Nicaraguan, she said she’s very excited to see the first Latin American pope. But beyond that, Rivas, who works as a freight forwarder, said Francis “exudes this image of a father figure that so many of us young people are looking for.
“It seems like he can be a great friend, a spiritual director, a father, a brother,” she said. “That’s what is so exciting for me.’’