Pope Francis has left Rome for his 12 hour flight to Rio de Janeiro, where he will attend the XXVIII World Youth Day. The Holy Father carried his own bag onto the plane. Pope Francis will spend all but one day of his week-long journey in the Brazilian city hosting the event. The one exception is on Wednesday, when he will visit the Marian shrine in Aparecida.
Catholic News Agency has a few details about Pope Francis’ flight to Rio, which includes some changes to the traditional in-flight papal press conference:
During the pontificates of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI, it was traditional for the Pope to hold an in-flight question and answer session with the press onboard the plane.
But Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s press office director, explained to journalists at a July 17 pre-World Youth Day briefing that the Pope will instead spend part of the flight getting to know the journalists traveling with him and have informal discussion with them.
UPDATE: Catholic News Service has some of Pope Francis’ remarks to journalists during his flight to Rio:
“It’s true I don’t give interviews. I don’t know why. I just can’t. It’s tiresome,” he said. “But I enjoy your company.”
Turning to World Youth Day, the purpose of his trip, Pope Francis said he did not want the event to be a meeting with young people “in isolation,” because “when we isolate them we do them an injustice. They belong to a family, a country, a culture and faith.”
While it is true that young people are the future, he said, they are not the only keys to a healthy future for a society, nation or the world.
The young “are the future because they are strong,” the 76-year-old pope said, but the aged are essential too, “because they have the wisdom of life.”
“Sometimes we are unjust to the aged; we set them aside as if they have nothing to give,” he said. “But they have the wisdom of life, history of our homelands and families that we need.”
Pope Francis told reporters he knows that in many countries the economic crisis has been hardest on young people and young families.
“I read last week how many of the young are without work, and I think we run the risk of creating a generation that has never worked,” he said.
The long-term lack of a job is detrimental, he said, because “work is dignity to the person (and) the ability to earn one’s bread.”
Once again decrying what he describes as “a throwaway culture,” Pope Francis said “we do it often with the aged and now, with this crisis, we are doing the same with the young.”
Pope Francis’ schedule for World Youth Day — his first international trip since becoming pope — can be found here.
From the Holy Father’s Twitter account: