Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
By Sergio Moraes
When we recently received the official agenda for Pope Francis’ July trip to Rio de Janeiro, we went straight out to photograph the sites he will visit. Brazil has 123 million Roman Catholics according to the last census, more than any other country. Since Rio is the world’s most irreverent city, according to its own residents, all Popes are received here with the slogan, “The Pope is pop.”
And with the large number of events in which he’ll participate here, that slogan will be on everyone’s minds.
Cariocas, as we natives of Rio are called, have a joke for everything, including for all the delays that we see happening in the construction of stadiums for next year’s World Cup. Our slogan of the moment is “Imagine that during the Cup”, and we use it for everything. If we run into a traffic jam, someone will inevitably say, “Imagine that during the Cup.” If a beer is too warm, if a restaurant’s service is slow, or if a day is rainy, we blurt out, “Imagine that during the Cup.”
I think the high point of the Pope’s visit will be the two days visiting Copacabana Beach, a place that every year sees two million revelers celebrating New Year. The Rolling Stones brought 1.5 million fans to Copacabana in 2006. Since Cariocas are natural partiers, I’m sure that during the two days of the “Pop Pope” on Copacabana Beach we’ll see millions of Catholics, non-Catholics, and tourists, many more than at any of those past events.
I can already imagine the bay full of yachts, small boats and even canoes. The sand will be occupied by pilgrims, bikini girls, beer vendors and thieves. Ironically, Cariocas will confirm that Francis is much more pop than Mick Jagger.