In exactly two months, Pope Francis will make his first overseas trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for World Youth Day . It shapes up as the biggest Catholic blowout of the early 21st century, a massive celebration of history’s first Latin American pope folded into what’s already the Catholic version of Lollapalooza.
At one level, it’s tempting to start writing success stories now. The crowds will be huge and enthusiastic, Brazil desperately wants the event to go well to showcase its status as the emerging superpower of the developing world (and as a trial run for both the World Cup next year and the Summer Olympics in 2016), and Francis has already proven that he’s more than ready for prime time.
Beneath the hype, however, there are four challenges awaiting the new pontiff on this outing, and however many beguiling visuals and moving testimonials the trip generates, triumph is hardly a foregone conclusion. Read more….