Morning Catholic must-reads: 22/07/13

Pope Francis blesses the faithful at the Angelus yesterday (AP)

After yesterday’s Angelus Pope Francis asked the faithful “to accompany me spiritually in prayer” as he begins his first apostolic journey to Brazil today.

The Pope made a surprise visit to the Basilica of St Mary Major on Saturday to pray for pilgrims attending this week’s World Youth Day in Rio (video).

Vietnamese officials reportedly prevented a key witness in the Cause of Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân from travelling to Rome earlier this month.

A new website is providing updates on the condition of American blogger Thomas Peters, who suffered a serious accident last week.

Robert Moynihan argues that the so-called Ricca case represents “a critical juncture in the new pontificate“.

David Byrne suggests that the Crusades led to the “intellectual revitalisation” of western Europe.

And NPR talks to a young recent convert to Catholicism about why she is travelling to World Youth Day (audio).

Follow me on Twitter @lukecoppen for updates throughout the day.