Francis in Brazil, or…

… or World War Z?


As I write I am with a group if priests, as we watch the Holy Father’s helicopter taxiing around a tarmac for what seemed like a long while, with that big headlight reaching out like a searchlight, one of the guys opined: …


“Maybe he’s looking for another baby to kiss.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Stumbler but trying says:

    Bad crowd control! So much for Brazilian security and planning ahead…I have never seen such traffic and risk of the crowds going crazy. I am praying and holding my breath the whole time I am watching the Pope’s security team try and squeeze through the mob and the traffic and all while protecting Papa Francis and his rolled down window.
    Virgencita de Guadalupe, protege a todos sus hijitos!

    p.s. I hope this poor traffic control/mob scene is not a taste of things to come…too risky!

  2. Priam1184 says:

    Did they fly the Ford Focus all the way from Rome? Or is that a rental?

  3. momoften says:

    Praying for his safety and those who are trying to keep him safe. God Bless them!

  4. jhayes says:

    Did they fly the Ford Focus all the way from Rome? Or is that a rental?

    According to USA Today, it’s a Fiat:
    “Thousands of people lined city streets on which the pope, famous for his frugality, rode in the back seat of a four-door Fiat that looked like many of the taxis in Rio.”

    Anoher article said that the buleltproof Popemobile had been flown to Rio in advance of the trip but Francis refused to use it.

  5. Magpie says:

    If Pope Francis is going to ditch the Mercedes Benz Pope mobile, then he should switch to something like a converted armourerd Land Rover Discovery.

  6. La Sandia says:

    “Bad crowd control! So much for Brazilian security and planning ahead…I have never seen such traffic and risk of the crowds going crazy.”

    You’ve obviously never visited South America. And I say this as someone married to a South American, and who finds much to admire in South American culture. Traffic laws are treated more as suggestions there. It was quite jarring for me to visit Lima for the first time, but I imagine that His Holiness is accustomed to this sort of thing. I hope his security detail is up to the task!

  7. Clinton says:

    Bad crowd control, indeed. People are going to get hurt if this keeps up.

  8. acardnal says:

    Security is terrible! Crowds swarming his car. How in the world is Brasil going to protect all the VIPs for the World Cup and the Olympics?

  9. Magpie says:

    I think it is really silly and irresponsible to use a car like that. No security and it’s not a prestige vehicle. I am sure the Brazilians had other cars that could have been used.

  10. Robbie says:

    I’m probably out of step with many of the commenters here, but I don’t like the pictures I’ve seen at all. First, I think Pope Francis is setting a terrible example when it comes to security. I have no problems with him wanting to be close to the faithful, but the Pope, whoever he is, will always be a target. All it takes is one clown amongst an unruly and untamed crowd to cause great sadness. His cavalier attitude is wrong. He’s no longer the little known Cardinal from Buenos Aires.

    Second, I think Francis risks being seen as encouraging a cult of personality. I’m happy people care about the Pope, Americans certainly did when Benedict came in 2008, but the love and adulation shouldn’t be about the man, Jorge Bergoglio. I think it should be about the Pope. Maybe that’s a distinction without a difference, though. In fact, Rocco Palmo tweeted earlier today one Cardinal told him he never thought he’d see a Catholic Dalia Lama, but here it is. Personally, I find that troubling.

    Like I said, I’m probably out of touch with most here on this issue, but that’s the view I have.

  11. Robbie says:

    Just to be clear about my previous point, I don’t believe the Pope is encouraging a cult of personality.

  12. Cool Catholic says:

    …another baby to kiss. Right on cue, there is the new-born Prince of Cambridge!

  13. Stumbler but trying says:

    @ La Sandia

    As a child and later, a young adult, I spent many a summer in Sonora, Mexico driving the crazy streets and highways with everyone disregarding any traffic control laws. I remember thinking that it was every man for himself.

    So the craziness we all have been watching is common but still, it was a nail biting scene with the Holy Father in that small car, the security team doing the best they could to protect him, the car and the citizens. All I could think of was them starting to rock the car but thanks be to God, the security came to the rescue. I am convinced there is a special place in heaven for those brave and very generous men and women.

    And now, I plan to keep praying and join all of the faithful in prayer and in joy as I will continue to watch. May all be brought closer to Christ Jesus and His Church. amen!

  14. Stumbler but trying says:

    This just in!

    Our Lady is truly at work along with Papa Benedict’s prayers and those of all the faithful throughout the world. I think security may have just taken on a new meaning. Let’s keep praying everyone!

  15. ppb says:

    “Bad crowd control” is exactly what I thought too, and it did make me rather nervous, not only for the Holy Father, but also for all those people running right up to his car. Shouldn’t there have been barriers to keep them at least a few feet away from the vehicle, for their own safety as well? At times the motorcade seemed to be moving pretty quickly and someone could have been run over.

  16. Bea says:

    Papal feeding frenzy

    The teenage sharks are closing in on the new Rock Star.

    I wonder when they’ll realize that this is just a Catholic Woodstock.

    May St. Michael the Archangel, patron of policemen, keep him safe.

  17. Jacob says:

    Regarding the ‘cult of personality’, it’s certainly not a new phenomenon.

    As to the security, I thought it was bad as well. When the motorcade slowed down there and were bumper to bumper, I was just waiting for someone to dive at the car with some kind of weapon or a suicide vest. But aside from that, the basic logistics of the entire trip were messed up. When the camera pulled back and showed all the buses backed up ahead, I was really concerned. Thank God they got traffic moving. I really was worried for the security guys who were running alongside the car between the car and the buses. I thought for sure some of them were going to get crushed.

    For those who know Rio, what is that conical building the motorcade circled there before the pope switched to the jeep Popemobile?

  18. jhayes says:

    He switched from the Fiat to an open-top Jeep

    “The pope, whose decision to get as close as possible to the people made authorities nervous, crossed the metropolis in a small four-door car with his window rolled down.

    Pilgrims stopped his convoy several times to shake his hand. Bodyguards struggled to control the crowd at times and the pope allowed a woman to bring her child, whom he kissed.

    The pope then climbed on his open-top jeep and waved at the faithful as he continued his journey among the crowds before talks with Rousseff at the Rio state governor’s palace.”

  19. jhayes says:

    You can download the booklet with the texts for all the Masses and other celebrations, here:

    Rorate complains that most is in Portugese and says there is less Latin than in Benedict’s last Youth Day Celebration

  20. Unwilling says:

    I like the core values and the simple earnest expressions of Sarah Palin.

  21. Faith says:

    “looking for a baby to kiss.” I find that remark rather snarky. If a Protestant said it, I’d be offended. But since it’s a group of priests, well, I find it unbecoming.

  22. rollim says:


    For those who know Rio, what is that conical building the motorcade circled there before the pope switched to the jeep Popemobile?

    Believe it or not, that “thing” is the Rio de Janeiro’s Cathedral Church.

  23. Lin says:

    “The mob scene witnessed as Pope Francis arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Monday took place because his driver made a wrong turn, church and Brazilian authorities said.”. Huffington Post
    This was also reported on FOX and other media outlets. I pray for the safety of this pope, as well as his security detail. He is putting them at risk by not following their advice. It seems we have all become somewhat cynical as babies are kissed while “Rome” burns.

  24. Oliveira says:

    @Jacob That conical building where the Pope was is Rio’s Cathedral. Terrible architecture, I may say. I was right in front of it today, and saw the Pope pass by. Great moment. I can quite confidently say that the atmosphere was one of joy and emotion. But I agree, security is an essential.

  25. Christbearer316 says:

    Am I the only one who finds this disturbing in the extreme? Hordes of hysterical people rushing the Pope’s motorcade as though he were Madonna, Justin Timberlake, any celebrity really, etc. WYD has devolved into just another case of papalotry. Thanks to the likes of JPII, the papacy is now entertainment and simply a cult of celebrity. Benedict XVI tempered that horrible attitude quite a bit, thank God, but Francis is going full bore into the photo-op papacy again. I am not offended by the priests “snarky” phrase. I’ve been thinking it for months as I watch event after event turn into a circus, and that’s being charitable, with Francis at center ring. This is a picture perfect example of the cult of celebrity and the ensuing celebrity worship that always follows.

  26. av8er says:

    I hope pope Francis will not be exposed to the calliope or angels on roller blades during his visit.

  27. Priam1184 says:

    @Robbie I agree with you and am very worried about Pope Francis and the celebrity cult growing around him. I was in Rome at the end of April and I honestly found it kind of creepy. Somebody at some point decided to turn the Pope into a celebrity and that is not his role in the world. It seemed to get into full swing with John Paul II but maybe it started earlier. And while I am not certain of many things in life one thing I am absolutely certain of is this: if you let the media build you up and rely on them as your support, then you are also giving them the power to rip you to shreds at some point down the road, and they will do it. This is a dangerous time for the papacy and for the Church.

  28. Priam1184 says:

    Can I just say for the record that Rio de Janeiro is probably not the greatest city in the world to get a few hundred thousand young people together if one is interested in promoting chastity. You might as well hold the next one in Vegas Holy Father, we could use the business…

  29. Cantor says:

    The big news today is of a Royal Heir, a failed pipe bomb, and a wrong-way driver.

    Just like it was exactly 99 years ago.

    The heir then? Prinz Franz-Josef of Austria-Hungary, visiting Sarajevo. He escaped an assassination attempt when a bomb thrown at his car missed. Later that day, his driver took a wrong turn and drove into a crowd. Serbian anarchist Gavrilo Princip happened to be on a street corner as the open-topped car crawled past, dejected at the earlier failed assassination attempt. He saw this as his God-given opportunity, drew a pistol, and shot and killed the Archduke.

    On July 28, 1914, ninety-nine years ago this Sunday. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and the First World War began.

  30. Cantor says:

    Oops – Franz Ferdinand, vice Josef. Shows what happens when one fixates on Liechtenstein!

  31. Steven Surrency says:

    I feel so mixed about all of this. I love the imagery and pomp, but if the pomp is misinterpreted by the world, then it can get in the way of the message. Remember, this pope is most interested in how it looks to those on the outside, not us liturgists within. We know the true meaning of the monarchical symbols. The world doesn’t. The pope wants to go out the peripheries and communicate with them. He doesn’t want to be self-referential. This is why he is doing what he does. I don’t know if it is the right decision.

    Moreover, the pope is the successor of the fisherman, not the emperor. That is true. Thus, while Pope Benedict did try to revive the monarchical trappings of the papacy, he seemed to do so only in liturgical settings. Apart from the liturgical acts, he did not emphasize monarchical imagery. In fact, he tried to do some of his own business, carry his own stuff, and even tried to get people to stop kissing the fisherman’s ring. Outside of the liturgy, Benedict often wished to eschew the shoulder cape on his white cassock, for instance. However,Papa Emerito yielded to the wishes of his handlers (and these aren’t bad people, necessarily). They kissed the ring; he wore the cape. It was in the liturgy that Benedict valued the monarchical symbols and made liberal use of them.

    It seems to me, that, outside of the liturgy, the main difference between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis is that Francis has a stronger, more determined personality. Benedict said no, then gave in. Francis said no, then doubled down. While I am not at all implying that the Holy Father is arrogant, I don’t think that humility is his most outstanding quality. I think that determination is. Pope Benedict, however, strikes me as humility incarnate. Pope Francis recently noted this as well.

  32. anna 6 says:

    Steven Surrency:
    “I love the imagery and pomp, but if the pomp is misinterpreted by the world, then it can get in the way of the message. Remember, this pope is most interested in how it looks to those on the outside, not us liturgists within. We know the true meaning of the monarchical symbols. The world doesn’t.”

    What I appreciated about Benedict XVI, the “professor pope” was that he was constantly teaching by using the beautiful and powerful imagery available to him. I understand what Francis is trying to do, and no doubt the outside world is responding to it…but I wish that he didn’t feel the need to get rid of the symbols, rather than explain their meaning within the Catholic tradition..

    I continue to be amazed at how the simple addition or removal of some articles of clothing has caused the world to interpret the actions of 2 men in such radically different ways.

  33. Eraser says:

    @Faith: you’re right. Such a snide remark is unbecoming of a group of priests, and uncharitable of other Catholics snickering at it. All of us should be praying for the Holy Father’s safety and the success of his visit.

    I saw the replay last night and it was unsettling, to say the least. Didn’t any of the authorities think to barricade the route and provide additional security where all those people were gathering? It’s their responsibility to protect the pope while he is in their country. Hopefully they learned something from the bad publicity and this won’t be repeated during his visit. That being said, the Holy Father should have known to keep his window closed. I esteem him highly and I admire how much he wants to connect with people, but he has to realize how difficult it is for his security staff in such situations.

    @Oliveira – what an experience! I hope you report some more.

  34. Priam1184 says:

    Thank you jhayes for the info.

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