By Mick Krever and Juliet Fuisz, CNN
In his first international trip, Pope Francis has travelled to Brazil, a country wracked in recent weeks by massive street protests.
So is the pontiff, with his message of social change and revival within the church, endorsing the activism of Brazilian youth?
“The core message that he's trying to deliver to young people on this trip is that he wants young people to see themselves as inserted into the struggles of society,” CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen told Christiane Amanpour from Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.
The pope has not directly addressed shortcomings by the Brazilian government, nor did Allen expect him to, but the pontiff has expressed support for the Brazilian youth who have spoken out against corruption and inequality.
Given the foundation of the Pope’s message, encouraging young people to advocate for social change, Allen explained, “I don't think it's possible that that won't in some way be perceived by those who took to the streets in June as a kind of indirect papal blessing.”
The trip as a whole is “extraordinarily important” for the new Pope, Allen said.
“This is the first time, so to speak, he's taken his act on the road,” Allen said of the Argentinian. “This is Francis' backyard … although there is a rich and deep Catholic history in Latin America, the Catholic Church in many ways here is a church under siege.”
The growth of evangelical and Pentecostal groups, Allen explained, has turned Latin American into “a kind of Wild West religious free market.”
Pope Francis’ mandate, Allen said, is to see whether the “enormous reservoir of goodwill” he has built up will translate to the masses.