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Pope Warns Against Liberalizing Drug Laws

  • VOA News

Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives at Sao Joaquim Palace in Rio de Janeiro, July 26, 2013.

Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives at Sao Joaquim Palace in Rio de Janeiro, July 26, 2013.

Pope Francis warned Latin America on Wednesday against legalizing drugs, saying drug trafficking "favors violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death."

The pope spoke at a hospital in Rio de Janeiro where he inaugurated a treatment ward for drug addicts and alcoholics. He said the eradication of "the scourge" of drug trafficking requires an act of courage from society as a whole, and said a reduction in drug use will not be achieved by liberalizing laws.

Hours earlier, stressing humility and simplicity, the former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio urged 200,000 faithful to shun materialism and instead focus on the poor and "the outcasts of society."

The papal plea came in a homily delivered in Sao Paulo state, in the basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida -- Brazil's patron saint. There, Francis urged clergy, parents and educators to teach young people values "that can help them build a nation and a world which are more just, united and fraternal."

The weeklong papal visit coincides with World Youth Day, an event held in Rio this year that brings together young Catholics from around the world.

Hundreds of thousands of youths have packed into the city waiting to greet the pope, and analysts have predicted as many as 1 million people will be on hand for the pontiff's welcoming ceremony Thursday on Copacabana beach.

The 76-year-old pontiff received a thunderous welcome Monday on arrival in Rio, cheered by thousands of people who lined the streets to view his passing motorcade. But the trip was marred by a major security lapse after his car took a wrong turn onto a busy street and was mobbed by well-wishers.

Analysts acknowledged serious security challenges, but they said the wishes of the pope to be out among the public made it difficult to ensure full protection.

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