Vatican plays down WYD security fears

A Vatican spokesman played down security concerns about Brazil's street protests and said he had 'total confidence in the capacity of the authorities to manage the situation' for the Pope's visit to Rio starting on Monday, reports NCR.

Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, made the comments during a briefing on Wednesday with reporters in Rome ahead of the trip for World Youth Day.

In addition, the Pope will forego using his bulletproof Popemobile during his visit, according to an AP report in Ucanews.

The Pope Lombardi said the Vatican was aware of the agitation that swept through Brazil in June but stressed that the protests 'have nothing specifically to do with the pope or the church.'

As to whether Francis will address the motives for the June protests, which began in anger over a small increase in bus fares but quickly spread to embraces issues such as poverty, education, health care and perceived corruption, Lombardi said we'll see what Francis has to say when he arrives.

In Brazil, there are indications that the protests could revive while the pope is town -- not out of any opposition to Francis, but taking advantage of the spotlight his presence creates.

NCR also reports that Brazilian media are reporting concerns about cost, both in financial and ecological terms. O Globo newspaper reported last week that government officials have declined to cover a possible funding shortfall caused by low registration numbers while in at least two cases, controversy has been stirred in environmentally sensitive Brazil by efforts to cut down trees to accommodate World Youth Day events.

Especially in a country already on edge because of a wave of recent popular protests, sparked by outrage over public spending on events such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, such developments could complicate the pope's reception.

O Globo reported that registrations for World Youth Day were expected to be in the neighbourhood of 1 million to 2 million, with participant fees covering at least 70 percent of the total estimated cost of $140 million.

Participants are being asked to pay fees ranging from $51 to $283, depending in part on whether they attend the full week of events or just the concluding vigil and Mass with the pope.

As of July 15 , however, only about 320,000 registrations had come in. The newspaper account said organizers had asked federal, state and city officials in Rio de Janeiro to provide $13 million in additional assistance, which they declined.

FULL COVERAGE

Vatican plays down security fears over Pope's trip (NCR)

Francis to forego bulletproof Popemobile (Ucanews)

Cost concerns loom over WYD (NCR)

World Youth Day by the numbers (CNS)

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