Cristo Redentor statue on top of Corcovado, a mountain towering over Rio de Janeiro. In the background the Ipanema and Leblon beaches separate the lagoon from the Atlantic Ocean
Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent, the 76-year-old Argentine said as dozens of people took a dip in the ocean.Picture: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images
Millions of people crowd Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on July 28, 2013 as Pope Francis celebrates the final mass of his visit to Brazil.
A reported three million people jammed Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach Sunday to get a glimpse of Pope Francis as he brought a whirlwind trip to his home continent to a close with a Mass, during which he called on young people participating in World Youth Day to extend their Catholic faith “to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent.”
“The church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you,” Pope Francis said to the massive crowd, one of the largest turnouts for a papal Mass in recent history, according to The Associated Press.
“Where does Jesus send us?” the pontiff asked the audience. “There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone.”
Over the course of Francis’ visit — his first foreign tour since he was elected March 13 — the pontiff presented a broad sketch of his key papal priorities: charity for the poor, bringing priests closer to the people, and re-evangelizing regions where Catholics have left the church — particularly Latin America, where the Catholic population has dramatically shrunk.
“I would like Christ’s command — ‘Go’ — to resonate in you young people from the church in Latin America, engaged in the continental mission promoted by the bishops,” Francis said in his homily Sunday. “Brazil, Latin America, the whole world needs Christ!”
Many of the pilgrims who packed Copacabana beach early Sunday slept overnight to secure a spot at Mass, some pitching tents and camping out in sleeping bags. Normally a sea of bikinis and swimsuits, the world-famous beach was, instead, crammed with Bibles, rosaries and crucifixes as worshipers convened to hear Francis.
“We were dying of cold but it was worth it,” Lucrecia Grillera, 18, told the AP. “It was a tiring day, but it was a great experience.”
The Vatican said that over 3 million people flooded the beach for closing Mass, based on data provided by World Youth Day organizers and local authorities, eclipsing the one million people at 2011 ceremony in Madrid and the 850,000 on hand for the 2002 ceremony in Toronto, according to the AP.
And yet the Rio crowd fell short of the estimated 5 million people who swarmed Pope John Paul II’s 1995 closing Mass in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, according to the AP.
Francis announced Sunday that the next World Youth Day would be in Krakow, Poland in 2016.
En route to the beach, Francis received a welcome befitting a rock star, as admirers flung well-wishes, kisses and gifts at the pontiff as he rode to the service in an open-sided car. Straight-laced Vatican bodyguards smiled as they moved along the pope’s vehicle, swept up in the ecstatic energy surrounding the convoy, according to the AP.
The pontiff is making his first visit overseas since he was elected in March. An estimated 2 million people are expected to greet him.
In his speech, he encouraged Brazil’s young people, who have protested against corruption in their country, to continue their efforts to change society by fighting apathy and offering “a Christian response.”
He received yet another rapturous reception, stopping his popemobile several times to kiss babies.
On Thursday, Pope Francis underlined his mission to lead a “church for the poor” Thursday, preaching against “selfishness and individualism” in an address to a rain-soaked Rio slum.
He was cheered by residents of the Varginha favela who hung out of windows and stood on rooftops just to get a glimpse he gave his address from a vast, muddy soccer field.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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We thank the NBC news and the Associated Press as annotated, for their wonderful report today~
The head of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics hammered home his plea for young believers to go and make disciples of all nations during a trip aimed at stirring passion in a faith losing followers in nations like Brazil.Picture: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis is a good servant to God and His Church and the poor~~who are God’s most special ones. Above all, Holiness is a good credit to his namesake~~Saint Francis of Assisi~~Greatest Saint of God’s Holy Church~
Who could ask of Pope Francis~~more than that?
Rejoice and Glad!!
~~THEOS EK MĒCHANĒS~~
JOHN DANIEL BEGG
Washington, District of Columbia
Sunday, 28 Juillet, Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, 2013~
John Daniel Begg
JOHN DANIEL BEGG
john daniel begg public affairs and speechwriting
Pope Francis celebrated a farewell mass before three million pilgrims on a Brazilian beach, urging young Catholics to spread the gospel as he ended a trip aimed at re-energizing his flock.Picture: AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano