Brazilian bishops had called a press conference Friday morning to discuss the papal visit in light of the protests, but no announcement of any changes had yet been made.

Mass protests have been rare in this country of 190 million people in recent years, and the mushrooming demonstrations of the past week caught Brazilian government officials by surprise while delighting many citizens.

"I think we desperately need this, that we've been needing this for a very, very long time," said Paulo Roberto Rodrigues da Cunha, a 63-year-old clothing store salesman in Rio.

Despite the energy on the street, many protesters said they were unsure how the movement would win real political concessions. People have held up signs asking for everything from education reforms to free bus fares while denouncing the billions of public dollars spent on stadiums in advance of the World Cup and the Olympics.

"This is the start of a structural change in Brazil," said Aline Campos, a 29-year-old publicist in Brasilia. "People now want to make sure their money is well spent, that it's not wasted through corruption."