RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
Pope Francis is headed to Rio de Janeiro tomorrow for World Youth Day. It's actually a week-long gathering for young Catholics held every few years in a different part of the world. The event is meant to inspire and energize the faithful, and more than a million young pilgrims are expected to attend this year. Pope Francis is the first pope from Latin America and he's making his first papal visit overseas. It is to Latin America.
Rocco Palmo writes the blog Whispers in the Loggia. And says Francis can expect an especially warm welcome in Brazil.
ROCCO PALMO: Oh, it's going to be, I think, a triumphant homecoming. You know, even World Youth Day always draws a crowd for the final events in excess of a million.
MARTIN: And I understand Pope Francis will not be using the famous glass-enclosed popemobile to get around in Brazil, right?
PALMO: No, it's going to be open.
MARTIN: Which sends a message.
PALMO: Well, it sends a message. It sends a message of not being afraid. But it also sends a message of wanting to be close to people because, you know, the glass-encased one, you know, it's not like the pope is completely confined, the windows go down. You know, the pope can still kind of stick his arm out. Or if a baby is brought up, can still kiss a baby. But Francis does not want to be confined in the bubble.
MARTIN: And Brazil itself has experienced these huge protests over the last few weeks across the country. People fed up with bad services from the government; corruption; how much the government is spending on big, high-profile, prestigious events, like the upcoming World Cup. Is Pope Francis expected to directly wade into these political issues?
PALMO: Being Latin American, he's deeply familiar with the situation because obviously Brazil shares much of its border with Argentina. But at the same time, I don't think he's going to weigh into it outside of just general principles. When people interpret the church as being political, what it really comes down to is the church speaks about the principles, the morals, but the practicals are for the politicians to decide.
MARTIN: Does this event to give us any idea about some of the bigger issues that Francis wants to engage in during his papacy?
PALMO: I think what he wants to emphasize - because John Paul's was a very mystical sense of theology. And Francis, meanwhile, I think he wants to send the kids out and basically say it's about, you know, being the best of yourself but living out the teachings of Jesus in the way that people can see that in you, that it shines through in you, and that they are attracted to it.
MARTIN: Rocco Palmo, he writes the blog, Whispers in the Loggia. Rocco, thanks so much.
PALMO: Anytime, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.