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Across the board

· At the beginning of the flight to Rome the Pope speaks with journalists and answers their questions ·

Impressions of Brazil and of World Youth Day, plans for upcoming visits, his relationship with Benedict xvi and other predecessors and a programme for reform  that, at the general congregations of the College of Cardinals during the sede vacante , he had in mind. He speak about all this and more Sunday evening, 28 July, just after his plane took off from Rio de Janeiro and brought him back to Rome.

Pope Francis’ first international pilgrimage ended with a press conference, lasting an hour and twenty minutes, during which he answered dozens of questions on current issues. The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Lombardi called it a “new experience” as he introduced the long meeting as past in-flight interviews at the beginning of papal trips haven't always been useful for the trip ahead.  Having the interview on the return flight meant plenty of material to cover.

Initially, the Holy Father just spoke about his time in Brazil, which has boosted him spiritually, despite the fatigue, since it is always enriching to meet new people. He praised  the goodness and hearts of the Cariocan people, who have a contagious cheerfulness even despite the suffering. He also applauded the hard work of local and Vatican organizers: They made me feel as though I were “an incarnate computer” — he said jokingly referring to the head of security organization Alberto Gasbarri — because everything was timed. He also complimented the security, explaining that there wasn't an incident in all of Rio and yet spontaneity wasn't inhibited either. All this even without armoured vehicles, for a bishop shouldn't be shielded from the people. There must be trust with the people and close proximity is good for everyone.

The Pontiff thanked the organizers of WYD the artistic, religious and catechetical aspects because Brazilians know how to express themselves through art. The memory of the spiritually intense experience of Aparecida preceded the the media’s coverage, in the understanding that that it was a job well-done, despite not having enough time to read the newspapers or watch on tv. Finally he confessed his wonder that when they informed him that three million people from 178 countries participated in the final Mass on Copacabana beach.

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