Pope Francis had his first official encounter with over one millionpilgrims attending WYD at Rios Copacabana beach. After a long journey in his popemobile through the cheering crowds, who didnt seem to mind the bad weather, Pope Francis reached the main stage for the celebration.
There, he was welcomed by an extraordinary outburst of color and music, as a group of 150 youths staged a special choreography. Then, five of them, representing each part of the world, officially welcomed the Pope to Rio. Pope Francis then thanked everyone for the celebration by addressing the crowd. In his speech, he made a special mention of his predecessor, who summoned WYD when he was still in office.
" We thank him with all our hearts, he invited us here today, we send him our greetings and a big applause. You know that before coming to Brazil I spoke to him and asked him to accompany me on the journey with prayer, and he said he would, and that he would also watch us on TV. So now he is watching us!”
Then the Pope was personally greeted by five youths. Music continued as the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida was brought on the stage and another group staged a representation of the Way of the Cross. The Pope then gave another speech, in which he encouraged all youths to 'put Christ' at the center of their lives.' This, and not material wealth, the Pope said, is the only way to lead a fruitful existence.
"Worldly possessions, money and power can offer a moment of intoxication, the illusion of being happy, but in the end they dominate us and lead us to ask for more each time, to never being satisfied. And we end up feeling full, but not nourished. It's very sad to see youths that are full, but weak. Youths must be strong, take nourishment from their faith and not gorge on other things!”
After the Pope's speech, the celebration continued with the Prayer of the Faithful and the sung 'Our Father' Prayer. Then, Pope Francis proceeded to bless the crowd, who responded with a truly enthusiastic applause.