Pope Francis Draws Record Numbers To Mass In Brazil

Pope Francis drew a record crowd of an estimated three million people for a mass on Brazil’s Copacabana beach on Sunday. The mass was held to conclude he pope’s week-long tour of Brazil.

Cheering crowds greeted the first Latin American pope as he held one of the biggest masses for a pope in recent history. The Catholic Church head spoke from a white stage looking out over the record crowd.

In his address, Pope Francis called on young Catholics to go out into the world and spread their faith, even to “the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent.”

CBS News reports that the pope added in his homily, “The church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you!” The homily was given on World Youth Day, and was a fitting message for the occasion.

Pope Francis appeared to enjoy the large turnout, stopping to kiss babies, take a sip of tea offered to him, and caught gifts for him as he drove by in an open-sided car. Copacabana’s 2.5 mile crescent of beach was almost too packed for crowds to see the pope.

While they didn’t join the record crowds in Rio de Janeiro, Dignitaries like Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer bid farewell to Pope Francis as he departed back to the Vatican.

The pope’s visit to his home continent was marked by several big moments, including a visit to a church dedicated to Brazil’s patron saint, notes The Huffington Post. Pope Francis also toured through one of Rio’s most dangerous slums. While this week’s mass was focused on youth, the pope issued a more pointed message to the region’s bishops later on.

He warned them that they need to look out for their flocks and put an end to the culture of putting priests on pedestals, with what Francis dubbed “sinful complicity” of lay Catholics who often hold the clergy in such high esteem. Despite several organizational issues, Pope Francis’ visit to Brazil was hailed as a success by the Vatican, pilgrims, and Brazilians.

On the tarmac before Pope Francis left, Temer commented, “You came to see the young people but you ended up enchanting all Brazilians.” He added that the country’s door will forever be open to the pontiff — and with the record crowd on Rio’s beach Sunday, his words likely ring true for many in the Latin American country.

[Image by Tânia Rêgo/ABr via Wikimedia Commons]