Sunday, July 28, 2013

Stunning Picture of 3 Million People at World Youth Day Closing Mass

This is just stunning.

From the AP:
Speaking from a white stage on the sands of Copacabana on Sunday, Francis urged a crowd estimated at 3 million people to go out and spread their 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!" he said to applause in his final homily of World Youth Day festivities.
Later Sunday, he issued a more pointed message to the region's bishops, telling them to better look out for their flocks and put an end to the "clerical" culture that places priests on pedestals - often with what Francis called the "sinful complicity" of lay Catholics who hold the clergy in such high esteem.  
Nearly the entire 4-kilometer-long (2.5 mile) Copacabana beach overflowed Sunday with flag-waving faithful, some of them taking an early morning dip in the Atlantic and others tossing T-shirts, flags and soccer jerseys into the pontiff's open-sided car as he drove by. Even the normally stern-faced Vatican bodyguards let smiles slip as they jogged alongside Francis' car, caught up in the enthusiasm of the crowd.
The Vatican said more than 3 million people were on hand for the Mass, based on information from World Youth Day organizers and local authorities who estimated two-thirds were from outside Rio. That was far higher than the 1 million at the last World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011 or the 850,000 at Toronto's 2002 concluding Mass. Only Pope John Paul II's Mass during his 1995 visit to Manila, the capital of the Philippines, topped Rio's numbers, with an estimated 5 million people taking part.  
Third place among papal Masses now goes to Rome's World Youth Day in the 2000 Jubilee year, when 2 million people participated. A similar number attended John Paul's final Mass in Krakow, his Polish hometown, in 1979, during his first visit to his homeland as pope. As if recalling that historic Mass, Francis announced Sunday that the next World Youth Day would be held in Krakow in 2016...

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