News / Americas

Pope Warns Against Liberalizing Drug Laws

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.
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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.
VOA News
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.

  • Pope Francis arrives to a farewell ceremony at the Rio de Janeiro airport, July 28, 2013.
  • People pack Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro for Pope Francis' final mass for World Youth Day, July 28, 2013.
  • Clergy attend a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on the Copacabana beachfront, in Rio de Janeiro, July 28, 2013.
  • A pilgrim wakes up after a night of vigil in Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, July 28, 2013.
  • Nuns and a priest take pictures as Pope Francis arrives at Sao Joaquim Palace in Rio de Janeiro, July 26, 2013. 
  • Thousands of young people gather at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Copacabana beachfront on July 25, 2013 for the welcoming of Pope Francis to World Youth Day ceremonies.
  • Pope Francis delivers a speech during a visit to the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, July 25, 2013.
  • People greet Pope Francis as he visits the Varginha slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 25, 2013.
  • A crowd waits for the Pope  to arrive at the Varginha slum in Rio de Janeiro, July 25, 2013.
  • A patient kisses the hand of Pope Francis at the Hospital Sao Francisco in Rio de Janeiro, July 24, 2013.
  • Thousands of young pilgrims gather on Copacabana Beach for a World Youth Day Mass in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23, 2013.
  • Pope Francis greets the crowd of faithful from his popemobile in downtown Rio de Janeiro, July 22, 2013.
  • Youth from France, Venezuela and Canada who are in Brazil for World Youth Day events sing songs as they ride in a train that travels to Corcovado mountain where the statue Christ the Redeemer stands over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23, 2013.
  • Pope Francis kisses a baby while greeting the crowd of faithful from his popemobile in downtown Rio de Janeiro, July 22, 2013.
  • Pope Francis shakes hands with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff after receiving a painting of Rio de Janeiro during a welcoming ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, July 22, 2013.

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