Take the Church to the streets, Pope tells young faithful

(AP)
A group places the World Youth Day Cross on the stage during the Stations of the Cross event, on the Copacabana beachfront in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, July 26, 2013. Pope Francis presided over one of the most solemn rites of the Catholic Church on Friday, a procession re-enacting Christ's crucifixion, that received a Broadway-like treatment; staging a wildly theatrical telling of the Stations of the Cross, complete with huge stage sets, complex lighting, a full orchestra and a cast of hundreds acting out a modern version of the biblical story.

The Pope has encouraged thousands of young Catholics to take to the streets and "stir things up".

Pope Francis was at Copacabana beach in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro to greet the thousands of pilgrims attending World Youth Day. 

His presence at the festival is one of the highlights for the estimated million young Catholics who have travelled from around the world to be there.

Referring to the heavy rain in the past few days, he said: "I expect a messy World Youth Day.  But I want things messy and stirred up in the congregations, I want you to take to the streets.  I want the Church to take to the streets." 

The heavy rain has forced organisers to move Saturday's vigil and Sunday's service from a soggy farm on the outskirts of the city to Copacabana beach. 

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The Pope also took part in the Way of the Cross.  At the end of the procession, he encouraged pilgrims to think about the lessons of sacrifice contained within the Cross.  

He said the Cross was a reminder of how close Christ was to his followers in times of trouble.

"Jesus, with His Cross, walks with us and takes upon Himself our fears, our problems, and our sufferings, even those which are deepest and most painful," he said.

The Pope also encouraged the crowds to have courage in living out their faith and following Christ.

He said: "Jesus is watching you now and He says: do you want to help me carry the Cross? Brothers and sisters, with your youthful strength, how will you answer Him?"

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