RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Pope Francis is urging young Catholics to shake up the church and make a "mess" in their dioceses by going out into the streets to spread the faith.
It's a message he put into practice by visiting one of Rio's most violent slums and opening the church's World Youth Day on a rain-soaked Copacabana Beach Thursday.
Dubbed the "slum pope" for his work with the poor, Francis received a rapturous welcome in a northern Rio shantytown so violent it's known as the Gaza Strip. The 76-year-old Argentine seemed entirely at home, wading into cheering crowds, kissing people young and old and telling them the Catholic Church is on their side.
In a muddy soccer field where a crowd of thousands braved a cold rain to welcome him, Francis said, "No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world."
191-r-29-(Sound of Pope Francis, during visit to Rio de Janeiro's Varghina favela, or slum)--Sound of Pope Francis giving a blessing at the beginning of his visit to a slum in Rio de Janiero. (25 Jul 2013)
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192-r-37-(Sound of Pope Francis, at open-air address in Rio de Janeiro's Varghina favela, or slum)--Sound of Pope Francis telling thousands of slum dwellers that it's wonderful to be there with them. Later in the speech, the pope brought a message of hope to residents telling them not to be discouraged even in the face of corruption by their leaders. (25 Jul 2013)
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APPHOTO XFD117: Participants of World Youth Day gather on Copacabana beach as they wait for the arrival of Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, July 25, 2013. Cheering pilgrims from 175 nations lined the beachfront to catch a glimpse of the pontiff. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) (25 Jul 2013)
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