Pope Francis blesses a boy in the Varginha slum July 25, during his weeklong visit to Brazil.


Pope Francis blesses a boy in the Varginha slum July 25, during his weeklong visit to Brazil.

August 26, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO – Visiting one of this city's notorious "favelas," or slums, Pope Francis denounced corruption and a "culture of selfishness and individualism."

The pope said such selfishness and individualism should be replaced by a "culture of solidarity."

While stressing the need to alleviate material suffering, he also said "real human development" requires the promotion of moral values, to satisfy a "deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy."

The pope arrived at the Rio neighbourhood of Varginha just before 11 a.m. on July 25 and began his visit with a short ceremony in the small neighbourhood chapel, where he blessed the altar before a congregation of more than 100 people.

Afterward, Pope Francis walked through the city's streets, apparently indifferent to the rain, stopping often to greet many of those crowding tightly around him.

Loud cheers accompanied him as residents reached out for his hand or to take his photo with their cellphones.

At one point, the pope entered a resident's house. He spent 15 minutes inside and, according to the Vatican spokesman, he greeted more than 20 people of all ages packed into a small room.

After more than half an hour, the pope stepped onto a stage overlooking the neighbourhood soccer field, where 20,000 people had gathered from Varginha and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Pope Francis thanked residents for their hospitality and said they and other Brazilians could "offer the world a valuable lesson in solidarity, a word that is too often forgotten or silenced, because it is uncomfortable."

Turning to address a wider audience, the pope urged the world's wealthy, public officials and "all people of good will who are working for social justice" to "never tire of working for a more just world" and greater equality.

He urged those opposing injustice and corruption not to "yield to discouragement": "Do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished. . . . Do not grow accustomed to evil, but defeat it."

The pope said that giving "bread to the hungry," while required by justice, is not enough for human happiness.

"There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern a nation, its nonmaterial goods," he said.