RIO DE JANEIRO -- Pope Francis' motorcade ended up stalled on a traffic-choked street and swarmed by thousands of faithful, but Brazilian officials said yesterday they evaluated security for the pontiff's arrival in Rio as "positive."
The frenzied crowd surrounded the motorcade Monday as people reached in to touch Francis, snap photos or hand him babies to kiss -- scenes that alarmed some onlookers, although the pope himself seemed overjoyed with the raucous welcome and kept his car window down. Later, Francis moved through the masses in an open-air vehicle.
No one among the security forces took responsibility for the traffic fiasco, which began when the driver of the pope's car made a wrong turn.
The federal police said the swarming "occurred for a number of reasons, in particular the options of the Vatican itself, concerning the visibility and contact with the pilgrims, expressed by the pope himself. The reduced speed of the motorcade and the vehicle's open window are facts revealing the profile of this pontiff and the encouragement given to the faithful to approach."
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is in Brazil and said that in watching the motorcade scene, "I was one of those alarmed myself."
"I love him and I don't want another conclave. We just finished one so we don't need him to be hurt at all," he said. "But the people of Brazil, the people of Latin America, tend to be enthusiastic by nature, they're just so dynamic in their faith."
The papal spokesman said Francis wouldn't change his decision to use an open-air vehicle for events expected to draw the largest crowds: a speech on Copacabana beach Thursday, a Way of the Cross procession Friday, and a weekend vigil and Mass in a rural part of Rio.