July 22nd, 2013
04:09 PM ET

Explosive found near site pope plans to visit

By John L. Allen Jr., CNN, and CNN Staff

Rio de Janeiro (CNN) - A small explosive device was found Sunday near a religious shrine in Brazil that Pope Francis is scheduled to visit later this week, Sao Paulo military police announced just few hours after the pope arrived on Monday.

The homemade device was found July 21, during police training in Aparecida, the site of a massive shrine to the Virgin Mary, Brazilian police said. It was constructed out of a small, plastic cylinder and duct tape.

A special tactical group detonated the explosive without causing any injuries, according to the police.

The affected area was not part of the pope's route, Brazilian police said. Rather, it was being prepared for pilgrims to World Youth Day, a weeklong Catholic event expected to draw hundreds of thousands to Brazil.

The pope is scheduled to travel to the national shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida on Wednesday. Neither Vatican nor Brazilian officials have said those plans will change.

Vatican officials say Francis requested the trip to the Marian shrine, said to be the largest in the world, because of his personal devotion to the Virgin Mary. He is scheduled to preach and celebrate Mass at the shrine.

The surprising disclosure about the explosive came just after Francis, making his first international trip since his March election, had delivered brief remarks to Brazilian dignitaries, including President Dilma Rousseff.

As the pope was driven from the airport to downtown Rio, crowds mobbed his small silver car, reaching out to touch the first Latin American pontiff. Later, they lined the streets as the "Popemobile" wound through downtown.

READ MORE: Pope Francis embarks on historic trip to Brazil 

Despite the rock-star greeting, Francis kept to his remarkably self-effacing persona upon his arrival in Rio de Janeiro. The pope said he wanted to “knock gently” on Brazil’s door during his first overseas journey, making sure it was OK to proceed.

“I ask permission to come in and spend this week with you,” the pope said to his somewhat startled hosts.

Francis arrived in Rio on Monday for the start of World Youth Day, which, despite its name, is actually a weeklong gathering of Catholic youth from around the world. It was launched by the late Pope John Paul II in the mid-1980s.

In truth, it would be tough to find anyone in Brazil inclined to refuse Francis permission to enter.

Those looking forward to the papal sojourn include hundreds of thousands of pumped-up young Catholic pilgrims; a Brazilian government eager for a good news cycle after a summer of discontent; agitated Brazilian protesters, hoping for a papal blessing for their demands; and even hordes of journalists with deadlines to meet.

After touching down, Francis also offered an echo of his identity as the “pope of the poor.”

“I have neither silver nor gold,” he said, “but I bring with me the most precious thing given to me: Jesus Christ!"

The pope challenged young people to “create a world of brothers and sisters” and older generations to ensure that today’s youth have “the material and spiritual conditions for their full development,” including “safety and education” as well as “lasting values.”


Earlier Monday, aboard the papal plane en route to Rio, Francis worried aloud about a “throwaway culture” that neglects young people and the elderly. He said elderly persons can offer “the wisdom of life, the wisdom of the past, the wisdom of our country and our family.”

Local organizers estimated that 700,000 youth from around the world have already arrived in Rio de Janeiro to greet Francis, and some projections peg the final total at about 2 million for a youth vigil with the pope on Saturday and his concluding open-air Mass on Sunday.

Though public reaction suggests that Francis made a strong debut, the weeklong trip will have its challenges.

Latin America has long been a Catholic stronghold, but in recent years, evangelical and Pentecostal Protestants have made deep inroads.

A recent study found that a quarter-century ago, Brazil was 90% Catholic, but today it is 65%. There’s also a rising cohort of secular Latin Americans with no religious affiliation, especially among youths and city-dwellers.

Moreover, of the 21 nations usually reckoned as part of Latin America, 14 of them are led by center-left governments that have sometimes crossed swords with the region’s Catholic leaders over issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage – including in the pope’s home nation of Argentina.

Brazil has also recently been gripped by an anti-establishment mood, fueled by anger over spending on mega-events such as the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, while many ordinary people believe that services such as education, health care and transportation languish.

There’s little indication that protesters want to embarrass the pope. Instead, they seem to be hoping to take advantage of his moral authority to bring attention to their cause. This week, one group that helped kindle the massive June demonstrations has plans for a rally under the banner “Pope, look how we’re treated!”

The greater danger for Francis may be that all sides in the country’s tensions may want to spin his message their way, especially with one eye on presidential elections in Brazil scheduled for next year.

If journalists aboard the papal plane today were hoping to draw Francis into a discussion of those challenges, they came away disappointed.

Francis walked back to the press compartment shortly after takeoff and spoke for only five minutes, focusing on the risks of a “throwaway society” that neglects both its youth and its elderly.

“I don’t give interviews,” the pope said by way of explanation.

“Why, I don’t know, but I can’t … It’s a little difficult for me, but I’m grateful for your company,” he said.

Yet part of Francis’ charm is that this skittishness didn’t come off as a snub, because the pope proceeded to spend the better part of the next hour standing in the front of the economy cabin of the papal plane to personally greet each of the roughly 70 journalists on board.

Monday afternoon, Francis was scheduled to meet Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the Presidential Palace, and then the 76-year-old pontiff will rest on Tuesday before heading north to the famed Brazilian Marian shrine of Aparecida on Wednesday.

CNN's Barbara Arvanitidis contributed to this report. 

John L. Allen Jr. is CNN’s senior Vatican analyst and a senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Brazil • Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (594 Responses)
  1. Adam

    The article is about a bomb that was found around a site the pope was to visit and the comments section is used as a platform to hate on the guy? Am I missing something? Did the pope plant the bomb?

    July 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Jerry

      Nope. You will never meet a more hate filled person than the average atheist. That's what they do.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
      • Athy

        How many atheists have you met, Jerry?

        July 22, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  2. sonotso

    What does he mean "he has no silver or gold"; the man rules the Vatican where much of the treasure of the world is hoarded. He may be a decent fellow; it's hard to know these days; however, he sits on plenty of coins.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • sjtaylorphoto

      @sonotso: what would you suggest he do? Sell the Vatican so we can all go visit the Verizon Basilica of St. Peter's? The Mastercard Cathedral of Notre Dame? Seems like the United States has already fallen into that trap.... I can't go to the Louisville Cardinals Stadium anymore. Now I've got to go the "KFC Center."

      Seriously, if he sold all that art (the universal patrimony of humankind, currently held by people who aren't going to market it off to the highest bidder....), whose hands would it fall into? Answer: the same Western elites who complain that the Catholic Church has it to begin with.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  3. bk1024

    "A recent study found that a quarter-century ago, Brazil was 90% Catholic, but today it is 65%. There’s also a rising cohort of secular Latin Americans with no religious affiliation, especially among youths and city-dwellers."

    Down there to increase your market share, Francis?

    July 22, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      he knows they've lost the youth. education, the internet and fact-checking are killing religion. 25% drop is a LOT. they'll try to shore up the damn for as long as they can, but eventually it'll break. reason will beat superst.ition in the end.

      July 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
      • sjtaylorphoto

        The internet is killing religion for the same reason the internet is killing our brains. It's not academic or peer-reviewed. Anybody can post anything they "feel" is right, whether that's a well-substantiated truth or not. And the flashier and more sensational, the more attention it gets.

        As for the 25% drop in Brazil, how many of those became Evangelical Protestants? A bunch, actually. That's hardly an argument for the internet making us "smarter." That's a major modern sophism.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  4. George

    The hayday of Catholicism is long past. Their numbers dwindle every year, and as people begin to accept education in place of fear, well, the church doesn't have much longer to go. The only really aggressive religion left will be Islam and in the future you will either be it or be headed.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • God wears panties

      If USA falls...Christianity will really start to phase out and Islam will rise

      July 22, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Andacar

      Yawn... is that the best you can do? And it's "heyday."

      July 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      More optimism, George. The days of religion are numbered and few. You can see it in the way Islam and now Catholicism go to the most injustice and poverty ridden places in the world to find desperate welcoming people. Education, humane standards of government and social justice are all that's needed to tip over all of the parasite religions.

      July 22, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
      • Steven

        Hate to burst your tiny little bubble but, religion in and of itself is not a bad thing it isn't going anywhere.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Religion in-and-of-itself is false, but it is sometimes a simple means of telling people what falls under the categories of ought and ought-not. It will continue to fade here as it has for some time. Education seems to attenuate it best.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  5. Mr. Duckworth

    The Catholic faith is the oldest Christian faith in the world. We've survived many major attacks through the centuries and we're still here, while those other cultures are gone. With Jesus we're not afraid of any bombs or threats – we survived because of Jesus.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Athy

      You've survived in spite of jebus.

      July 22, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
      • Josh

        His name is actually Jesus. Why is a little common decency and respect so hard for you so called "enlightened" people?

        July 22, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
        • Athy

          His name isn't Jesus, either.

          July 22, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • blursd

      I think the Eastern Orthodox Church might disagree with the claim the Catholic Church is the "oldest Christian church."

      Just saying ...

      July 22, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
      • Johnboy

        I think you need to go back and get reacquainted with history.

        July 22, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • adibese

      The Hindus have been around a lot longer than Christianity (Christianity even stole their stories/characters), and they're some of the most numerous people on earth. I guess Krishna loves them more?

      July 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Adam

      Animism, Zoroastrianism, Mithraism... and on and on and on...
      So yeah... Go read about the history of religion again...

      July 22, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
      • Johnboy

        He said "Christian faith". And yes, it's the oldest.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • God wears panties

      Really the oldest?????????? lol

      July 22, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
      • Johnboy

        Actually, it is.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
      • Athy

        So there was no religion before jebus?

        July 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  6. Darlene Buckingham

    The Pope does not give interviews because there is a risk of saying something that has not been scripted. The RCC is one big fake script – time for a different movie.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  7. CCA

    A pope visit is the bomb.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Steves


      July 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  8. Dasea

    In my opinion this pope is off to a great start

    July 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  9. Thought Purification

    ya damn good advice by Pope, “create a world of brothers and sisters,” so you're a father and uncle of your kids.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
  10. cpc65

    Was it the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch? "One....two....five." – "Three, sir!" – "Three!"

    July 22, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • Akira

      Monty Python. Well done.

      July 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
  11. bankrupt due to student loans

    why do they hate the pope so much? (besides that the catholic church harbored pedophiles and is still pushing the dark ages for men and women)

    July 22, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Pooped Pope

      You're right. It seems no one should hate the Pope. Maybe people hate him because they have to hate someone, so why not the Pope. People have to write hateful posts, so as you see, they appear. People need to worry about their own lives which have no meaning or importance, but they would rather be negative and hateful to the world instead of appearing likable.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
      • Johnboy

        Said some clueless wonder oblivious to the damage caused by the church.

        July 22, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
        • Ken Uck

          Said some clueless wonder oblivious to the good done by the church.

          July 22, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
        • Johnboy

          Like what, Einstein?

          July 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  12. mrl

    geezzz.. cutting heads off referees... trying to blow up the pope... no way i am going to the olympics down there

    July 22, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Bang!

      They probably don't want you there. You probably wouldn't be awarded a tourist visa anyway.

      July 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
  13. alterink

    i love this guy, I'm not catholic but he makes me consider it. how many other great relgious leaders give up their luxuries? How many are so humble? Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth

    July 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • snowboarder

      the label of "great" seems a bit premature.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
      • paul46

        Not to mention the phrase, "...that self-effacing persona". A bit much for me. Still, I like the guy.

        July 22, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Good_Son

      Agreed he sets a great example

      July 22, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Yes, not bad for a delusional, mentally ill, lying charlatan, that has done nothing to bring criminal pedophile priests and their protectors to justice.

        July 22, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Dark Itch

      Sure he seems like a swell guy.

      But it doesn't mean I want to join his imaginary friends cult.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
      • NxPunk

        "imaginary friend cult. " lol Oh how I do agree.

        July 22, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Buckwheat

      The security costs to protect the poop in his new dump versus the papal suites is 10 times more expensive.

      July 22, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  14. lakishajohnson

    Is it true that the Pope is visiting quack faith healer ‘john of god’ in Brazil., who has shamelessly been promoted and made famous/infamous by Oprah and just recently claims to be honored by the Catholic Church to a knight commander in the Papal Order of St Gregory. Pretty bizarre for a guy who claims to ‘heal’ with the spirits of dead people and by sticking forceps up one’s nose!

    July 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Joe

      Possibly; but it isn't any more pointless than a lot of things people have been taught to believe are "normal." Take chemo: your chances of survival are LESS THAN 5% (equivalent to the placebo effect), yet it's the first thing most sheeple think of when they get the bad news. Doctors will give you a higher figure (usually "20%"); but do you know how they do that? By labeling someone a "survivor" after only 2 to 5 years, depending (in other words, bunk). 75% of doctors, by the way, say that they would rather be euthanized than go through chemo – d'ya think they know something the rest of us don't? Cheers.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
      • lakishajohnson

        Hey Joe,
        Am I understanding you right. You would prefer to be treated for an disease/injury/sickness by having someone stick forceps up your nose rather then by a medical doctor? And this procedure, in your opinion has better overall results than say chemo? Interesting. I guess that is why the Pope is honoring and affirming 'john of god' into the Papal orders. Here I thought that this was some deliberate new age deception to fool sick, gullible and desperate people. Like myself

        July 22, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
      • Johnboy

        Totally made up chemo stats.

        July 22, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Dark Itch

      I do not know.

      I do not care.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  15. Team chaos

    Couldn't be Muslims

    July 22, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  16. Donny

    "crowds mobbed his small, silver car, reaching out to touch the first Latin American's pontiff"

    He'll need to go through a decontamination chamber when he gets home. Brazilians are nasty.

    July 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • snowboarder

      but smooth.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
      • Dale


        July 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • lroy

      Only 8 posts. I guess no one cares, but over 10,000 about the new royal baby. Oh well, who needs those damned liberals anyway. All I could think of was watching footage of The Beatles getting mobbed by frantic fans, tearing the cars limb by limb.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
      • Johnboy

        Yes, because a guy in a pointy hat that worships a mythical magical sky daddy is much more important?

        July 22, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Joe

      To say nothing of the water. Don't drink it, and DON'T go a hospital (even an upscale clinic) if you do; take activated charcoal and ground clove gelcaps instead.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
      • Dale

        Oh, ok. I'll listen to some random guy on the net. Save myself the co-pay. Thanks.

        July 22, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
  17. Ved

    youth week..... mmmmmm.... lots of priests will turn up for this one, that's for sure....

    July 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Good_Son

      You Sir are a MORON Troll go back under your rock please.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • Andy

        Truth hurts.

        July 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
      • Johnboy

        I think it's pretty clear you're the moron here.

        July 22, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
  18. Reality

    The NT is the story of a simple preacher man aka Jesus told by five different story tellers/embellishers named Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. They made this simple preacher man into a god to win converts to/money for their cause, the new Judaism. Some years later a few of the many embellished passages were erroneously used to establish the male papacy. Tis time to bring Christianity back to Earth where it originated. Time for equal representation in the leadership. Time for democracy in the Catholic Church. Amen.

    July 22, 2013 at 6:11 pm |

    • It's bombs, dear. Eat your peas.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Brian

      Yes, they saw their leader get crucified for the things he said and they thought, hey, let's embellish it even more and maybe we can make some money out of it. One of their "embellishments" was that they acted like cowards during Jesus' trial and execution. That sounds like a good way to win people over to a cause. They all suffered execution themselves for the things they taught. Obviously, Jesus wasn't a "simple preacher" whoever he was. He was someone who stirred the pot to the degree that everyone in power and authority wanted him dead and systematically did the same to his followers who, for no discernible reason other than the fact that they were convinced Jesus rose from the dead, kept on preaching that message while faced with their own demise. Obviously they were in it for the money!

      July 22, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
      • snowboarder

        martyrdom is not particularly significant. there are martyrs in practically every religion.

        July 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
        • SeattleBeliever

          I don't think that was his point. He was answering the question of embellishment and showing how, if they were trying to embellish why would they make themselves look bad in the story and then put their lives on the line for the message they were teaching. I don't think someone out for the money or fame would continue if someone told them they were going to die for it. People like that usually like their necks more than others.

          July 22, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
        • Truth

          Martyrdom is somewhat common throughout history, but what is significant about the martyrdom of the apostles and other followers of Jesus is that they died for what they actually witnessed and then proclaimed to the rest of the world in a very opposing and hostile culture. Millions have died for what they believe to be true (think radical Muslims of today, for example), but that is totally different than dying for something that you know for a fact to be true or you know for a fact to be a lie.

          Nowhere in history do we have a record of literally hundreds of people who were actually eyewitnesses to an event willingly allowed themselves to be killed while proclaiming that a false event was true, and then not one of them, when faced with death recanted what they were proclaiming. Think about it logically–if the life, death and resurrection of Jesus was untrue, why would one person, much less hundreds of people–knowingly lie about it only to suffer horrible persecution and then happily suffer some of the worst deaths possible? Does that even make sense? Of course not. even the opponents of Jesus recognized as much. No, these people SAW and WITNESSED the truth with their own eyes, and they were willing to die for that truth rather than recant. That is extremely important to understand.

          July 22, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • sjtaylorphoto

      "Time for democracy in the Catholic Church."

      Sounds like we'll end up just believing whatever's popular, flashy, and convenient and looks like us – instead of what's difficult and true.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  19. Doobs


    July 22, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Bob

      We have little hope that your maturity will win that war.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
      • Doobs

        Oh, grow a sense of humor for pete's sake. It was a take on Dilbert.

        July 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Doobs

      Dang it, they changed the story. Although I guess it still could work.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.