World Youth Day: For Francis, the best early candidate for his signature touch is mercy, expressed in his repeated emphasis on God's endless capacity to forgive.
Rio de Janeiro
At a popular level, the triumphant return of the first Latin American pope is clearly the dominant storyline surrounding Francis's July 22-28 visit to Brazil, in tandem with the church's World Youth Day festivities.
For the more historically minded, however, it's almost as striking that Francis is also the first Jesuit pope, who is returning this week to a country, and a city, that witnessed both one of the order's greatest triumphs and one of its greatest calamities.
World Youth Day: The crowds are festive, but the weather was soggy. Plastic ponchos sold just as well as papal banners.
Whenever the pope travels, the Vatican organizes pools, meaning groups of journalists, who set out at the crack of dawn each morning to attend the various events on his itinerary.
Photographers and TV people don't have any choice in the matter because they have to be where the pictures are. Print reporters, however, always face a dilemma.
John Allen in Rio: The pope came to the the notorious Varginha favela Thursday to say, "The church is with you."
Q and A: Dolan said the pope's simplicity, humility, and closeness to the people are no surprise -- the only surprise is how well he seems to be pulling it off.
In his most pointed bit of political commentary since arriving in Brazil two days ago, Pope Francis this afternoon blasted narco-traffickers as "dealers of death" and came out against trends in Latin America towards the legalization of drugs.
The pope's comments came during a visit this evening to a Rio de Janeiro hospital that serves people suffering from alcohol and drug addiction.
"The scourge of drug trafficking, that favors violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage," Francis said.
The Vatican spokesman told reporters the pope would not be taking a ride in his open popemobile through the working-class Rio neighborhood of Tijuca.
World Youth Day: In his visit to Aparecida Wednesday, Pope Francis devoted his homily to what he called "three simple attitudes."
Pilgrims from all backgrounds, driven by a single faith, participated in the opening Mass Tuesday for World Youth Day.