From Brazil

with Vincent Bevins and guests

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Vincent Bevins √© colaborador do jornal brit√Ęnico 'Financial Times' e correspondente no Brasil do 'Los Angeles Times'. Escrito em ingl√™s, blog aborda principais acontecimentos do Brasil sob o olhar de um estrangeiro.

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Popeweek 2013

Por Vincent Bevins

In 2013, this is what it looks like when the Pope is about to pass by in front of crowds. Smartphones and cameras everywhere.

It’s Popeweek here in Rio de Janeiro, and that has absolutely dominated news coverage. Since my main employer, the LA Times, is a newspaper in a Catholic-heavy city in a very religious country, we’ve done¬†a lot. Brazil watchers should also check out Folha’s excellent English-language coverage, ¬†but what follows below is a summary of what’s happened so far as I report for LAT.

Brazil is “the world’s largest Catholic country,” but it is¬†less Catholic than ever, and it’s worth asking¬†how¬†Catholic people here really are compared to the rest of Latin America, and how often self-professed believers agree with the Church on moral doctrine.

In Brazil, it’s the Evangelicals¬†that have strong opinions on religion, and whom the secular-liberal protesters view as a threat. Just as often as not, being “Catholic” here is a default option for anyone who hasn’t thought much about religion. Only 16% of Brazilians report going to Catholic Mass once a week – and the word “report” in there implies it could very well be less.

The faithful are hopeful Francis will inspire the flock to come back to the Roman Church. He is certainly popular, largely because of a perception he goes out of his way to live simply and get closer to ‘the people.’

He was received like a pop star on Monday, with crowds laughing, and cheering, and singing, and snapping, and snapping, and snapping (see photo above). I have never seen so many photos taken at the same time in my life. One amazing scene unfolded as a group of nuns mobbed his moving car with open windows…to take pictures of him on their camera phones. But I didn’t see anyone crying or praying.

Tomorrow, he heads into a favela which was pacified last year. That will be symbolic for both the Church and for protest-ridden Brazil.

OK, I think I got all the links in there. For the full list so far, go here. And for those that really care, you can follow me on twitter.

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