Pope's visit puts spotlight on Brazil's many issues

(CBS News) RIO DE JANEIRO -- Pope Francis visited a shrine to the Virgin Mary Wednesday during his trip to Brazil, and he seemed to tear up as he stood in silent prayer.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida on July 24, 2013 in Aparecida, Brazil. The shrine attracts millions each year and honors the dark-skinned Virgin of Aparecida, who is considered the patron saint of Brazil. Pilgrims throughout the world are joining Pope Francis for his visits to various locations in Brazil from July 22- July 28 during the Catholic Church's World Youth Day celebrations.
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida on July 24, 2013 in Aparecida, Brazil.
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

The Pope spoke in Aparecido, a small town with a huge shrine to Mary, the mother of Jesus. An estimated 150,000 people were there when he delivered the homily at mass -- his first sustained remarks on his first foreign trip.

The Pope lamented that everyone, including young people, are "attracted by the many idols which take the place of God and appear to offer hope, money, success, power and pleasure."

This was due, he said, to "a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people."

Along the quiet streets of Rio de Janeiro's Santa Teresa district, many blame Brazil's leaders for that emptiness.

Pope Francis' visit to Brazil fraught with security issues
Pope Francis greeted by frenzied crowds in Brazil

Federico Souza
Federico Souza
CBS News

Federico Souza is an architect who designed the altar stage where Pope Francis will celebrate mass this weekend. He and his wife are middle class professionals who pay high taxes for low benefits.

Life here, they said, is stubbornly unfair.

"There are too few people who have all the money and there are too many people who have nothing," he said.

"Of course there is corruption," he added.

While some 40 million Brazilians have risen from poverty during the last decade, protectionist policies have produced high prices for food, clothing and fuel. The public infrastructure is a mess.

Thousands of demonstrators march in downtown Niteroi, near Rio de Janeiro
Thousands of demonstrators march in downtown Niteroi, near Rio de Janeiro, June 19, 2013.
TASSO MARCELO/AFP/Getty Images

Health care is overwhelmed, education is barely passing, the police don't police, drug violence is still a problem in the slums and transportation is more stop than go.

Riots that took place this summer were because people objected to paying nine more cents for crummy bus service.

And now comes Pope Francis, who will be here until Sunday evening, putting a spotlight on other problems that may make government leaders here rather uncomfortable.


  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.

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