In his remarks in Varginha, the pope criticized the “culture of selfishness and individualism,” spoke of how the wealthy need to do more to end social injustice and told residents to “never yield to discouragement” because of corruption.
He also praised the poor for the solidarity they show toward one another, saying such gestures can be a “great lesson for the world.”
And he stressed to the people of Varginha that he is on their side.
“The church offers its collaboration on all initiatives that lead to the development of all people,” he said. “The church is with you. The pope is with you.”
Hours later, speaking under a rainy sky in Copacabana, the pope’s message to the faithful was less political and more centered on the importance of believing in Jesus. “He is a friend who does not defraud,” the pope said.
Some young Brazilians spoke of how they want to see the pope, who has over the months shown he is an advocate of social justice, speak forcefully about what they consider the deep problems with the Brazilian political and economic model. Brazilians hit the streets by the hundreds of thousands in June, demonstrating against everything from corruption to shoddy bus service to high taxes and inflation.
“I hope he takes a strong posture,” said Cris Amorim, 25, a teacher who spoke about how irate she is over the country’s corruption. “The pope is here to lead on these kinds of issues.”
With three days left in his trip to Brazil, the pope still has several events at which he can widely disseminate his position, if he chooses, on those kinds of issues to his young followers.
Juliana Montesso, 36, a nutritionist here, said she believes the pope can have an impact.
“The pope has come to show that evil cannot win and that people who cheat and who are corrupt cannot win,” she said. “The pope is a chief of state and a religious leader, and he does what other chiefs of state and religious leaders cannot do.”