There is growing uneasiness about the lengths Pope Francis is willing to go to be with the people, just a few days after his car was mobbed by adoring crowds when the lead car in his motorcade made a wrong turn and forced his bodyguards to fend off tens of thousands of frenzied Brazilians.
On Monday, shortly after his arrival, Francis rolled down the window of his Fiat and greeted the fans that surrounded him as he was blocked by buses and taxis.
"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."
Along the route there were few fences and no uniformed police or armed forces, as would be expected for a visiting head of state.
Top Vatican officials met Tuesday with senior Brazilian officials to go over the pope's security and made some changes: On Wednesday, Francis will use only the closed car when he travels in Rio to a hospital to meet with patients, rather than switch to the open-air car midway through as had been planned.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, insisted the change was taken merely to "simplify" the pope's travel and was not a reflection of increased concern about his safety.
The mob scene on Monday in Rio de Janerio that surrounded the Pope's vehicle, and his decision to shun a major security detail for his visit to Brazil, exemplifies his view of what the Roman Catholic Church should be doing:
Go out into the streets. Spread the faith. Recapture the dynamism that other denominations have been using to snap up souls.
But his actions have Catholic leaders and followers seriously worried about his safety.
"He's used that phrase that we have to get out to the streets, we can't stay locked up in our sacristies, we can't be navel-gazing all the time," U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in interview Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro.
Dolan, however, expressed concern over Monday's swarm and said security might need to be tightened for Francis' own good.
"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," Dolan said.
His call for a more missionary church, seeking out the faithful in the most marginal of places, will get even more traction Thursday when he visits one of Rio's shantytowns, or favelas, and meets a family inside their home.
Brazilian security officials defended their handling of the pope's tour through Rio, saying Tuesday that an evaluation of his arrival by federal police, the mayor's office and highway police was "positive, since there was no incident involving the pope or with any of the faithful."
Authorities in Brazil said earlier that about 10,000 police officers and more than 14,000 soldiers would take part in the overall papal security plan, but on Monday virtually no uniformed officers were seen.
Andreas Widmer, a former Swiss Guard who protected Pope John Paul II from 1986 to 1988, said the scenes from Rio were reminiscent of some of the more hair-raising trips John Paul took, even after he was wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square. He sees it as part of the pontiff's job.
"Fundamentally one has to see that the pope is not like a president," Widmer said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Boston. "You can shut the president in a house and he never sees any normal people. The pope's office is a ministry, and a ministry cannot be impeded by security."
"You cannot be pope and not see people," Widmer said.
Sao Paulo Cardinal Odilo Scherer said that "nothing happened when the pope was stuck in traffic" and that "we shouldn't exaggerate the psychosis of security" when it comes to protecting the pope.
It is Francis' wish that his security not be "militarized," Lombardi said.
Francis stopped to kiss babies and shake hands thrust into the window of his car, and once he reached Rio's center, he switched to his open-air vehicle and drove right back into the crowds.
The moment was particularly unnerving in light of sometimes violent anti-government protests that have been going on across Brazil for a month. It also was embarrassing for security officials who are charged with keeping order during next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
"I was so surprised!" said the Rev. Joseph Tan, a priest from the Philippines who echoed the reaction of many in Rio for the papal visit.
"In the Philippines, people would have gathered to get a glimpse, but nothing like what we saw," Tan said. "But that's the pope's personality. He was just being himself."
Francis was dubbed the "slum pope" in his native Argentina for the amount of time he spent in dangerous areas while he was archbishop there. And in a speech that some say helped get him elected pope, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio told colleagues that the church must "move toward the peripheries, not only geographic but also existential."
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.