Luca Zennaro / AP
The pontiff is making his first visit overseas since he was elected in March. An estimated 2 million people are expected to greet him.
Pope Francis stressed the importance of family and grandparents in particular in a speech in Brazil Friday.
“How precious is the family as the privileged place for transmitting the faith,” he said, according to an English-language version of his Angelus address released by Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi before the pontiff spoke.
Walking confidently through a dangerous Brazilian neighborhood, Pope Francis looked right at home among the poorest of the poor in Rio on Thursday as he calls for Brazil to do more for social justice. NBC's Anne Thompson reports.
“How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each and every society. How important it is to have inter-generational exchanges and dialogue, especially within the context of the family,” he added.
Francis, who was speaking to a crowd at the archbishop’s residence in Rio de Janeiro, said the dialogue between generations was “a treasure to be preserved and strengthened.”
Francis –- the fifth day of his week-long tour –- was also meeting with juvenile detainees and other young members of the Catholic Church, as part of events associated with World Youth Day.
More than a million youngsters were estimated to have greeted Pope Francis at the event's opening ceremony on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach late Thursday.
Throngs of well-wishers braved the rain to catch a glimpse of the pontiff after he arrived by helicopter. History’s first Latin American pope then drove down the beach, stopping regularly to greet the crowd.
The annual event, attended by worshipers from across the globe, began in 1985 and provides the pope with an opportunity to meet the church’s young people.
Earlier on Thursday, Pope Francis underlined his mission to lead a “church for the poor” on a visit to the Varginha favela, one of the most notorious of Rio’s impoverished crime-ridden shanty towns.
“You are not alone,” he assured the crowd, prompting a roar of approval. “The church is with you, the pope is with you.”
Preaching against “selfishness and individualism” in an uplifting address, he railed against inequality and corruption and called for a “culture of solidarity.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
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This story was originally published on Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:09 AM EDT