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Brazil gears up for Pope visit amid protests
July 22, 2013, 2:29 pm


Rio’s Copacabana beach is the venue for festivities to mark Catholic Youth Day [AP]

Latin America’s first Pope arrives in Brazil on Monday to attend a youth festival in the world’s biggest catholic country amid what state security officials have said is ”the biggest police operation” in Rio de Janeiro’s history.

Local anonymous “hacktivists” have called for demonstrations outside the Rio state government headquarters where the pontiff is set to meet Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Activists say they will also gather “to protest the 90 million dollars in public spending for the papal visit”.

This is Pope Francis’ first international visit.

His visit comes at a time when the Catholic Church is witnessing a difficult period with rival Protestant churches inducting more followers than ever before.

Sergio Abranches, CBN Radio commentator and political analyst says the Pope arrives in Rio at a critical moment for both the government and the Catholic church.

“Pope Francisco enjoys high sympathy and popularity among Brazilians of all faiths. If he is able to ‘talk the street talk’, he may well be able to use this opportunity created by the enthusiasm and dedication of catholics with this mass religious event to halt the decline of adhesion to his Church,” Abranches told The BRICS Post.

A poll conducted in June this year by the Folha Group showed that 57 per cent of Brazilians call themselves Catholic today, a drop from the 64 per cent six years ago.

“To the Catholic Church, and the Pope this is a grand spiritual and institutional opportunity, when the World Catholic Youth meets in Rio, to address its now seemingly fragile majority,” said Abranches.

The papal visit will also witness planned protests by gay rights activists and feminists against the Catholic church’s stand on abortion and gay marriage.

Security is expected to be especially tight at Rio’s Copacabana beach, the venue of the festivities to mark Catholic Youth Day.

Brazil was hit by a wave of mass protests in June with protestors demonstrating in the streets for access to better public services.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies