July 29th, 2013
08:48 AM ET
By John L. Allen Jr. and Hada Messia, CNN
Aboard the Papal Airplane (CNN) - Pope Francis said Monday that he will not "judge" gays and lesbians, including gay priests, signaling a shift from his predecessor and offering another sign that the new pope is committed to changing the church's approach to historically marginalized groups.
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said in a wide-ranging news conference aboard the papal plane.
Though he was answering a question about the so-called "gay lobby" at the Vatican, the pope indicated a change in tone, if not in teaching, in the church's stance towards gays and lesbians more generally. FULL POST
July 28th, 2013
10:17 AM ET
Rio de Janeiro (CNN) - Pope Francis closed out World Youth Day with a final Mass before a giant crowd of millions on Copacabana Beach.
"Go, do not be afraid, and serve," the pope told the crowd Sunday.
Catholic pilgrims from around the world traveled to Brazil for the weeklong celebration and a chance to see the pontiff, whose visit was a shot in the arm for a church that has seen its share of scandal and troubles.
Massive crowds followed Francis at every stop on the trip. Organizers and local officials said 1.5 million people came out for the Way of the Cross observance on Friday.
The mayor's office in Rio said final estimates for a prayer vigil on Saturday could reach up to 3 million. On Sunday, the Vatican citing civil authorizes put the crowd for the final Mass over 3 million.
July 28th, 2013
08:56 AM ET
By John L. Allen Jr., CNN
Rio de Janeiro (CNN) - We didn’t need Pope Francis’ trip to Brazil this week to grasp that the new pontiff, who’s set a tone of simplicity and love for ordinary people, is a hit.
Polls around the world show approval ratings that would be the envy of any politician or celebrity, while vast crowds show up in Rome for even his most routine activities.
What Brazil confirmed, perhaps, is that his act plays as well on the road as at home.
During his week in Brazil for World Youth Day, an international Catholic event, mob scenes erupted everywhere Francis went, despite cold temperatures and driving rain for much of the week.
July 27th, 2013
04:58 PM ET
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.
July 25th, 2013
07:50 PM ET
By Helena Cavendish de Moura, for CNN
RIO DE JANEIRO (CNN) - With a blasting medley of bossa nova music as a prelude, Pope Francis addressed about a million worshippers in Copacabana beach on Thursday, lacing his message to a new generation of Catholics with Brazilian street jargon.
"Bota Fe" - put on faith - was the antidote to what he called growing materialism and discontent, the pontiff said.
"What can we do? Bota Fe," he said. "If we want to have real meaning and fulfillment, as you want and you deserve ... put on faith."
The thread of the pontiff's speech resonated with Brazil's youth, many of whom are expressing disenchantment with their government.
July 25th, 2013
01:12 PM ET
Rio de Janeiro (CNN) - Pope Francis visited one of Rio de Janeiro's most dangerous and impoverished neighborhoods Thursday, saying that no society pushing the poor to the margins can succeed.
"I say: You are not alone; the church is with you; the pope is with you," Francis told residents of the notorious Varginha favela, or slum.
"I carry each of you in my heart, and I make my own the intentions that you carry deep within you: thanksgiving for joys, pleas for help in times of difficulty, a desire for consolation in times of grief and suffering."
Francis, whose concern for the poor has earned him the nickname the "slum pope" in Latin America, is in Brazil through Sunday for World Youth Day, a weeklong Catholic event.
July 23rd, 2013
12:47 PM ET
Copacabana Beach, Brazil (CNN) - Don't blame the pope's Swiss Guards if they had nightmares Monday night. There was plenty to disturb their sleep: a mobbed motorcade, a bomb scare and protesters clashing with police.
When Pope Francis arrived here Monday for World Youth Day, a weeklong Catholic event held every few years, the massive security effort was temporarily undermined by a traffic jam.
As the papal motorcade was driving from the airport to the presidential palace, federal officials steered the motorcade into the busiest of several potential routes. As the motorcade slowed, papal admirers swarmed the silver Fiat hatchback carrying Pope Francis, reaching into his open window to touch the pontiff.
A Vatican spokesman said the pope wasn't afraid - but his secretary was.
July 22nd, 2013
04:09 PM ET
By John L. Allen Jr., CNN, and CNN Staff
Rio de Janeiro (CNN) - A small explosive device was found Sunday near a religious shrine in Brazil that Pope Francis is scheduled to visit later this week, Sao Paulo military police announced just few hours after the pope arrived on Monday.
The homemade device was found July 21, during police training in Aparecida, the site of a massive shrine to the Virgin Mary, Brazilian police said. It was constructed out of a small, plastic cylinder and duct tape.
A special tactical group detonated the explosive without causing any injuries, according to the police.
July 22nd, 2013
10:47 AM ET
Rio de Janeiro (CNN) – For the first time in the history of the Catholic Church, a Latin-American pope will touch down on his own continent on Monday.
Pope Francis, the 76-year-old Argentine, begins his first apostolic visit Monday in Brazil, home to the world’s largest Catholic population. The pope will be participating in World Youth Day, a weeklong celebration aimed at revitalizing young Catholics, and the church, here and around the world.
Organizers said 400,000 pilgrims from around the world had registered, though the crowds are expected to be much larger as people try to catch a glimpse of the pontiff known as the “people’s pope.” Many of the events with the pope will be open to the public and not just the pilgrims.
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