He carried his own bag during his travels, and he visited a slum in Rio de Janeiro.
And his message to his young followers sounded downright subversive.
“Be revolutionaries. I ask you to swim against the tide.Yes, I am asking you to rebel.” he said.
On his way back to Rome, the pope spoke to reporters at length about difficult issues, including gay priests.
“If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge him,” he asked.
The pope did not negate Church teaching that homosexuality is a sin.But his words do reflect a more compassionate approach to controversial issues than that of his predecessors.
Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, which opposes the church’s ban on abortion and contraception.“It feels good as a Catholic to have a leader who’s not again talking to us about why we can’t use condoms;again he’s not beating up on gays;or he’s not saying that women who have abortions are bad.”
He said the rhetoric, though, needs to be followed by real change.
“And we’re not seeing a lot of movement by Pope Francis,
about changing some of the teachings that are hugely problematic for Catholics,” he said.
Still, Francis’ first trip abroad suggests that he has a way with large crowds of the faithful, not seen since the papacy of John Paul II.