MEXICO CITY — Pope Francis embarked Monday on his first overseas trip as pontiff — waiting in line to board his flight and carting his own carry-on luggage.
Journalists accompanying the former Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio of Argentina on his pilgrimage to Brazil were more than a little amused to see the famously humble pontiff dispense with many of the formalities that customarily go with papal voyages.
Shortly before taking off at 8:53 a.m. Rome time, the pope tweeted to his 2.7 million followers (the Twitter ones, not the necessarily Roman Catholic ones):
I am arriving in Brazil in a few hours and my heart is already full of joy because soon I will be with you to celebrate the 28th WYD.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) July 22, 2013
WYD is World Youth Day, an annual gathering of young Catholics from around the world that is the official purpose of the trip, which is taking the first pope from the Americas back to his homeland.
Expectations are high for many in Brazil and throughout Latin America, who are looking for the church to reengage with the region’s pressing social issues, and welcome Francis’ dedication to the poor.
Once the pope’s Alitalia flight was underway, Pope Francis spoke to reporters, decrying unemployment among youth and society’s disregard for the elderly.
“A people has a future if it goes forward with bridges: with the young people having the strength to bring it forward and the elderly, because they have the wisdom of life,” the pope said, according to journalists onboard the flight.
The pope is scheduled to land in Rio de Janeiro at 4 p.m. local time Monday.