Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, met the pope earlier today in the Vatican. She is the second head of state to meet Pope Francis, after he received, last Monday, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
The pope confirmed to the Brazilian president that his first trip abroad will be to Brazil. He will visit Rio de Janeiro in July 2013, to preside over the International Youth Day (JMJ) – a huge catholic encounter that the head of the Catholic Church attends every three year in a different part of the world.
“The pope is Argentine, but God is Brazilian,” Rousseff joked to journalists. Brazil is the country with the highest number of Catholics in the world: 123 million out of 194 million inhabitants.
“The presence of the pope at the International Youth Day will attract many people,” said Gastão Vieira, Brazilian Minister of Tourism. The most recent International Youth Day, in Madrid, attracted around two million people.
The authorities of Rio de Janeiro are getting ready to host this number of people, knowing that the presence of the Pope will attract many more.
During their encounter, the Pope and president Rousseff talked about the protection of the marginalised and needy population. After their reunion, she told the journalists that he was a very “charismatic character”, and very “involved with the poor”. They also talked about the youth problems in Brazil, such as drugs and violence.