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1 million people welcome Pope Francis to World Youth Day

July 26, 2013

An estimated 1 million people greeted Pope Francis to the World Youth Day (WYD) celebration in Rio de Janeiro on July 26.

The Pope told the young people gathered at Copacabana beach: “Today Christ asks each of us again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel?”

The welcoming ceremony on Thursday evening was a colorful and joyous affair, despite the rains that have plagued WYD organizers, and caused problems with communications systems during the Pope’s appearance.

After he was introduced to the crowd by Archbishop Joao Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, and greeted with prolonged applause, Pope Francis recalled that the first international WYD celebration took place in his own home town, Buenos Aires, in 1987.

The Pope then reminded WYD participants that the invitation to this year’s celebrations in Rio had originally been extended by Pope Benedict XVI. He assured the crowd that the former Pope was following the events in Brazil with his thoughts and supporting them with his prayers, and asked the crowd to join in a prayer for Benedict.

While WYD is intended to encourage young Catholics, the Pope said, it is also an inspiration to him and to other prelates. That encouragement is important, he said, because “the life of a bishop can become sad. What a sorry thing: a sad bishop!”

The motto for this year’s WYD is “Put on faith.” The Pope remarked: “Put on faith, and your life will take on a new flavor.” Exploring the theme further, he said that the motto really meant: “Put on Christ.”

“Today, it benefits all of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust?” the Pope said. “In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus?” Material goods and earthly power provide temporary gratification, he said, but the love of Christ is the only lasting good. “Put on Christ in your life, place your trust in Him, and you will never be disappointed.”


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