Pope Francis has told Brazil’s political elite that “constructive dialogue” is needed to confront the country’s social turmoil.
In a speech to political, religious and civil society leaders on Saturday, Francis said “constructive dialogue … (was) essential for facing the present moment,” referring to the massive street protests that rocked Brazil last month.
“Between selfish indifference and violent protest there is always another possible option: that of dialogue,” he said.
“A country grows when constructive dialogue occurs between its many rich cultural components,” said the pontiff who is on a week-long visit to Latin America’s most populous country.
Last month, young Brazilians spearheaded nationwide street demonstrations to demand an end to corruption and better public services.
“Dialogue, dialogue. It is the only way for individuals, families and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress,” said Francis who is here to attend a major Catholic youth fest.
After the speech, he hugged various indigenous people wearing colourful feather headgear.
Earlier, the pope challenged priests to bring the message of the Gospel to the world’s slums as he pressed his drive in Brazil to revive a struggling Catholic faith.
“It is in the favelas … that we must go to seek and serve Christ,” he told thousands of bishops, priests and seminarians from around the world gathered for a mass at Rio’s St. Sebastian Cathedral.
“We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel,” Francis said.