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Massive crowd attends prayer service with pope
Young Catholic pilgrims attending World Youth Day on Copacabana Beach.
July 27th, 2013
04:58 PM ET

Massive crowd attends prayer service with pope

By Shasta Darlington and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

Rio de Janeiro (CNN) – A massive crowd packed Copacabana Beach late Saturday for a prayer service with Pope Francis.

The pope addressed Catholic pilgrims who came for the weeklong World Youth Day celebration.

Organizers said 3 million attended the service. They cited the mayor's office and police for the crowd estimates, which nearly doubled the 1.6 million who came here for a 2006 Rolling Stones concert and matched the 3 million who came for the 2000 millennium celebration.

CNN could not verify the estimate.

As he drove to the stage in the popemobile, Francis was pelted with T-shirts, banners and flags from the increasingly adoring crowds being held back by barricades on both sides of the street.

The pope told young people in attendance that they were the "protagonists of the future."

"In your young hearts, you have a desire to build a better world," Francis said. "I have been closely following the news reports of the many young people who throughout the world have taken to the streets in order to express their desire for a more just and fraternal society."

He said protesters should be motivated by the values of the Gospel and to overcome apathy with "a Christian response to the social and political concerns present in their countries."

The prayer vigil had been scheduled for a field 30 miles outside of the city at "Campus Fidei," or faith field, but organizers had to move events to Rio because of flooding.

"Today too, as always, the Lord needs you, young people, for his church," the pope said. "You are called to build a more beautiful church and a better world."

Many camping overnight on beach

Flags from around the world dotted the beach and marked off territories for the pilgrims with their sleeping mats who planned to stay overnight on the beach in anticipation of a final Mass on Sunday with the pope to close out the event.

"This is what the church needs now. He just brought so much new energy and so much joy," said Yana Slovakia who was attending with her church St. Anne Catholic Community outside Houston, Texas.

"In a church that has experienced much hemorrhaging of membership, tonight is a clear indication that young people are still willing to consider this Church their home," said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Canadian priest who has been working with the Vatican communications team.

"Just as John Paul II's election sent high voltage shocks into the Communist regime and eventually brought it down, I think that Francis' election has also sent some serious jolts deep into the shallow sects that have caused some hemorrhaging of the church in this part of the world."

Earlier, in a stern speech delivered to Brazilian bishops on Saturday, Pope Francis chastised the church for losing many of the faithful to other denominations, saying they must work harder to be close to the flock and employ a "grammar of simplicity."

"At times, we lose people because they don't understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people," he told the 300 bishops gathered for lunch.

The Vatican called it Francis' longest and one of his most important speeches to date. And it sets the tone for what can be expected from the pontiff's strategy for the Catholic Church as a whole.

Pontiff urges priests to get out of the office

Francis reiterated a familiar message, urging priests and higher-ups to get out their parishes and reach out to the people, especially those pushed to the margins of society.

Brazil has more Catholics than any other country, but the number has eroded in recent decades. According to a 2010 census, just 65% of the total population of 191 million considered itself Catholic, down from 74% in 2000.

In the same period, the percentage of Brazilians who considered themselves evangelicals grew from 15% to 22%.

On Saturday, Francis reflected on the causes.

"Perhaps the church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas," he said.

"Perhaps the world seems to have made the church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions; perhaps the church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age."

The pope arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Monday for the run-up to World Youth Day.

Before meeting with the bishops, he presided over Mass at Rio de Janeiro's Cathedral and then met with politicians and leaders of Brazilian society at the Municipal Theater.

The unpredictable pontiff even placed an indigenous headdress on his head briefly during the encounter.

Friday night, an estimated 1.5 million people turned out and the pope lead them in prayer.

Presidents and heads of state from across Latin America were scheduled to attend the final Mass, at which the pope is scheduled to announce the location of World Youth Day 2015.

CNN Vatican analyst John L. Allen Jr. contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Americas • Belief • Brazil • Catholic Church • Pope Francis • Vatican

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    August 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    WORLD HEALTH PROBLEM.

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    INFORMANT INTERVIEWS – MENTAL Torturers – STUDIES OF THE HUMAN RACE WITH ALL AGENCIES OF COUNTRIES THAT

    ARE NOT DEMOCRATIC STATE – WHY, JUST FOR BUSINESS – PUSHING THE VENEZUELAN irradiating DEMENTIA A WHILE

    AND TELEVISION PROGRAMS DO TO PEOPLE THAT HANDLED CREATE THAT ARE HANDLING IS ONLY A MATTER OF

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  2. instagram followers

    The most important way to ensure success on Instagram is to have a large audience of followers to share
    the photographs. August 21, 2012 – To increase one's overall presence on social media, one has to buy Instagram followers. Nowadays, multi-panel check products can be bought in the marketplace, which could detect many medicines at the shot having a single urine sample.

    July 31, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  3. lionlylamb

    Shakespeare is a friendly sort but alas many know him not... A penny will no longer leverage open the skirted valor's seminaries of sequenced womanhood any more than of manhood's lamenting wayward vices... Keeping everyone's chastity as being held sacred is an elusive affair ever stoically to be and become the ravenous wolf's gainfulness...

    Though there be critical ones thinking among the topmost branches of civilizations trees of disparagement offerings: the rooted labyrinths of reasoned deducing ways offers little minded goodness to be availed unto the soulless seekers whose only wisdom is found within travesty's demonic exuberances laying ever wastefully towards all graven worded reconciliations that the demonic do behest against many a Holy Believer in and of God's most unrighteous beneficiaries as being an unholy divider in search of disenfranchised souls to devour and chew upon...

    The gullibility's pragmatists are relationally transcribed be they overtly religious and even of the mundanely inverted against anything religious... The ever hardening of bitterness offerings runs ever continuously upon the mainstreamed religious waters unending motions... For without believer’s sanctifications who would be the beneficiaries witnesses..? Does not a cold-heart seek ever the warmth of another's heartfelt wondering ways..?

    Assuredly does not truth come from the readings of the word and knowing of each and all words understandable meanings..? Where then does truth remain standing if meanings cannot be as meaning felt devotional understandings..? Do not many people stop thinking becoming themselves as mindless beasts ever to be herded here to there and made to eat this thing and drink of the other thing..?

    Toward my belief system, religion is a personal belief and should not be a sociable consideration... Anyone's beliefs upon religious conjuring séances should be held personally and not be centered by any socialism of the religiously clairvoyant which tends to conjure their weekly seminary séances upon the weakly enamored folks ever forsaking the doctrines oaths… Emotionalisms are where religious circles are deemed rented and the renters pay steeply for a yarn’s worth... Therefore keep one's faith separated from religious teamsters who take and never give their folded flocks any causally rational explanations as to why there are reportedly many more of God's many sons then what Christendom so potentially claims there to be…

    I am affirmed full of faithfulness in there being a God who has born many godly sons even Satan himself who must have been so handsome, the rest of God's sons saw Satan's beauty and they all fell down at Satan's feet for he was so handsome... Nowadays we creatures of the mists do no more exemplify many of God's first born sons and have taken sides against God's many sons and we have named Jesus as God's first born which I no longer stand up to believe anymore. Jesus if anything was God's last son to be born and bore by a human woman which makes Jesus out to be a half-breed. C'mon God! Tell us all your truths in all of your first born sons being so born when Chaos once did rule supremely..!

    July 28, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  4. guest

    Generally, do atheist believe that mankind is naturally good or naturally bad; another way to ask; how do atheist explain the good and evil natures of mankind?That is: what is the driving force behind mankind's character?

    July 28, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • lionlylamb

      Conscientious Objectivities are the people's girded emotional mannerisms and are subjected towards lapses of judgmental rhapsodies... Yes..?

      July 28, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Maybe you should take an Anthropology course and find out. There is nothing to explain. Evolution explains everything, perfectly. It's no mystery, unless you are uneducated.

      July 28, 2013 at 11:05 am |
      • Josh

        No theory explains everything. Maybe you should get educated.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  5. @grassroots: I posted a reply to your 8:22 reply to Anna

    I hope all sincere atheist will take this into consideration.

    July 28, 2013 at 10:02 am |
  6. lionlylamb

    July 28, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  7. N&W 1000

    Did Barry Manilow sing?

    July 28, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  8. lionlylamb

    A little Jethro Tull anyone..?

    July 28, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • lionlylamb

      Maybe some Steppenwolf-Monster is more to your liking..?

      July 28, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  9. Reality

    Why the fuss over a man no better or worse than any human who ever existed?

    Tis mind boggling that this man and his religion can be brought down to earth in less than ten seconds. With this in mind should not the moderators of this blog and their buddy Stevie P be looking for new jobs?

    Again for the new members:

    To wit:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    July 28, 2013 at 8:27 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.