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Pope Francis visits muddy Brazilian slum

Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 00:52

July 25 - Pope Francis calls for a society of solidarity while speaking at a Rio de Janeiro ''favela'' slum neighborhood. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Pope Francis on Thursday issued the first social manifesto of his young pontificate, telling slum dwellers that the world's rich must do much more to wipe out vast inequalities between the haves and the have-nots. History's first Latin American pope, who has rallied the Church on behalf of the poor and who lives more austerely than predecessors, called for a "culture solidarity" to replace the "selfishness and individualism" prevailing in modern society while addressing residents of Manguinhos, a sprawling shantytown, or favela, of ramshackle brick dwellings that until recently was overrun by violence and controlled by drug lords. Before making his anticipated speech the pope first visited the favela's small chapel where he offered a blessing. While in Manguinhos, Pope Francis, an Argentine known for frequent outings into the slums near Buenos Aires even as a Cardinal, smiled and visibly enjoyed the close contact allowed with some of the residents there. Driving in an open popemobile, the pope was surrounded by well-wishers and leaned out to kiss women and small children and shake extended hands on the way to the slum, where there was a heavy police and military police presence for his visit. He visited homes on the recently cleaned streets where he challenged the rich and powerful to use their influence to enact lasting change. The stop here, under rains that have persisted throughout most of his first trip abroad as pope, comes halfway through a week-long visit around World Youth Day, a gathering of young Catholics that is expected to attract more than a million faithful to Rio de Janeiro and nearby sites. Despite downpours and unusually chilly weather, tens of thousands of rapturous Brazilians and foreign visitors have turned out to welcome the pope. Reflecting his humble personal style, Pope Francis said he would like to have been able to stop in every Brazilian home for a coffee. The pope called for more efforts to end poverty and said the authorities must do more than just crack down on the drug trade to ensure opportunities for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. The pope praised Brazil's efforts over the last decade to reduced poverty in Latin America's largest nation, which last month was rocked by massive protests against corruption, the misuse of public money and the high cost of living. But he said more was needed to be done to bridge the gap between rich and poor at the root of social injustice, in a reference to the police occupation of Rio's slums started last year to "pacify" drug-related violence. "The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty," he added. Brazil, home to the world's biggest population of Catholics with over 120 million faithful, is an apt locale for the pope to remind the world of inequality.

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Pope Francis visits muddy Brazilian slum

Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 00:52