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    Pope Francis in Rio for World Youth Day

    Pope Francis has celebrated Mass with scores of native Argentines in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ahead of welcoming hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims at a ceremony for World Youth Day in Rio.

    The pope led Mass at Metropolitan Cathedral, providing faithful from his neighboring home country the best opportunity to see him while he is on the continent. He urged the crowd to stay excited about their faith.


    "I hope for pandemonium. Inside here there is going to be pandemonium. Is there going to be pandemonium here in Rio? There is. But I want pandemonium in the dioceses. I want it to go out. I want the Church to go out into the streets."


    The World Youth Day ceremony later Thursday is the highlight event of the pontiff's week-long trip to Brazil. As many as one million people are expected to be on hand as Francis addresses young Catholics from around the world on Rio's famed Copacabana beach.

    Before the Mass, the pope met with Brazilian athletes, including football legend Zico, and blessed the Olympic flag. Rio will host football's World Cup next year and the Olympic Games in 2016.

    He also visited one of Rio's notorious slums, or favelas, continuing his mission to call attention to the poor and marginalized.



    During a visit Wednesday to the shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Aparecida, the country's symbol of the Virgin Mary, Francis urged 200,000 faithful to shun materialism and focus on "the outcasts of society."

    The pontiff also warned Latin America against legalizing drugs when he visited a treatment center 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.

    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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