RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — With a blasting medley of bossa nova music as a prelude, Pope Francis addressed about a million worshippers in Copacabana beach on Thursday, lacing his message to a new generation of Catholics with Brazilian street jargon.
“Bota Fe” — put on faith — was the antidote to what he called growing materialism and discontent, the pontiff said.
“What can we do? Bota Fe,” he said. “If we want to have real meaning and fulfillment, as you want and you deserve ... put on faith.”
The thread of the pontiff’s speech resonated with Brazil’s youth, many of whom are expressing disenchantment with their government.
Police are on high alert amid the potential for protests throughout the city. On Monday, protests turned violent in the neighborhood of Laranjeiras as students and other young demonstrators hurled insults at a police battalion.
Earlier Thursday, Francis walked the muddy streets of the Varginha slum where crowds rushed through the area’s labyrinthine alleyways and streets to see him. The pontiff visited a resident in the neighborhood also known for its violent history of drug-related criminal activity.
Francis also met with Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, who handed the pontiff a key to the city. According to O Globo newspaper, the pope told the mayor he would make an appeal to Santa Clara for better weather.
“We have to offer 12 eggs to Santa Clara,” the pontiff told Paes.
“Santa Clara will only start to work tomorrow,” Paes said in jest.
Santa Clara, or Saint Claire, called the “princess of the poor” founded the Order of San Damiano. Her names means “clear” in Spanish so eggs, or egg whites, are sometimes used to remember her and to pray for good weather.
According to Brazil’s Climatempo weather agency, unusually cold temperatures and rain will persist over the next 48 hours.
The rainy forecast forced officials to move the event’s closing celebration from Guaratiba, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, to Copacabana.
Helena Cavendish de Moura | CNN