Brazil unrest could affect Pope's visit to Rio De Janeiro: Official

BRASILIA (AFP) - Brazil must prepare for the possibility that the mass protests now rocking the country may continue during the Catholic World Youth Day in Rio De Janeiro in July, when Pope Francis is due to visit, an official said on Friday.

"We have to be prepared as the (Catholic fest) may coincide with demonstrations in the country," Mr Gilberto Carvalho, the presidential chief of staff, said during a meeting in Brasilia with organizers of World Youth Day.

“The situation evolves so rapidly that it is difficult to predict what will happen. To say what will happen would be foolhardy, but we must be prepared,” he added.

On Thursday, more than one million people marched in more than 100 Brazilian cities in escalating protests over the high cost of hosting the World Cup and inadequate funding for social programmes.

More than two million people from around the world are to attend the major Catholic youth festival scheduled for July 23 to July 28 in Rio, one of the Brazilian cities hardest hit by the protests.

Pope Francis will attend as part of his first foreign trip since his election in March.

Mr Carvalho said Brazil will do its utmost to ensure that the festival is “what we dream of” and “a sign of mobilization for hope, peace”.