Pope Francis (File, AFP)
Vatican City – Pope Francis will ditch the bullet-proof "popemobile" used by his predecessors on his visit to Brazil this month and travel in an open-top jeep, the Vatican said on Wednesday.
Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi also dismissed concerns ahead of the 22-28 July trip about the demonstrations that have recently been rocking Brazil.
"We are going to Brazil with confidence in the authorities' ability to manage the situation," he said at a briefing on the upcoming visit – the pope's first foreign trip since being elected in March.
"We know the demonstrations are not at all aimed at the pope or the Church," Lombardi said.
More than a million young people from 170 countries are expected for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.
Better with contact
Brazil was shaken by a series of demonstrations in June, mainly over the cost of public transport, spending on 2014 World Cup and corruption.
"We are not currently expecting any inconveniences for World Youth Day. Everyone will understand the pope's message is a message of solidarity," Lombardi said.
He also pointed out that the bullet-proof "popemobile" of years past will be left in the Vatican and Francis will instead use one of two open-top jeeps – one white, one green – that have already been shipped out to Rio.
"This is the pope's choice, in continuity with what he is doing here. He feels better when there is contact" with the crowd, Lombardi said.
The spokesperson also gave further details about the pope's programme including a helicopter trip to the Marian sanctuary of Aparecida and his visit to the Varginha favela in Rio where he will visit a family.