Latin America & Caribbean

Rio World Youth Day: Pope re-enacts Way of the Cross

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Media captionThe BBC's Julia Carneiro says huge crowds gathered to see Pope Francis

Pope Francis has joined crowds of Roman Catholic pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro for a re-enactment of Jesus carrying the cross to his crucifixion.

The Stations of the Cross march comes on the Pope's fifth day in Brazil for World Youth Day - a weeklong event for more than a million young Christians.

He spoke about the lack of faith in political institutions perceived as selfish and corrupt by young people.

A planned field vigil outside Rio was moved to the city because of rain.

Young Catholics played drums on Copacabana beach as they waited for the Pope. People from all over the world travelled to Brazil for the pontiff's visit.

"Jesus is united with so many young people who have lost faith in political institutions, because they see in them only selfishness and corruption,'' Pope Francis said.

Protests, sometimes violent, broke out in cities across Brazil last month against corruption, poor public services and the high cost of events like the 2014 World Cup.

The 76-year-old Pope also expressed understanding for Christians who had lost faith in the Church because of what he called the "incoherence of Christians and ministers of the gospel".

The Roman Catholic Church has been rocked by scandals over sexual abuse by priests.

One man from Argentina told the BBC he knew the Pope from his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He said he was renowned for his strength and tenderness, but "now he's like a real father."

Image caption Pilgrims from throughout the world have travelled to Brazil to see the Pope

Another pilgrim described the Pope as "very clever" and "very humble" with "a lot" of personality. "It's what our religion... our church is needing right now," she said.

Shortly after the Pope finished speaking, police held a group of protesters who tried to invade the stage. They were demonstrating against the state governor of Rio, Sergio Cabral.

In Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, some 300 demonstrators attacked several bank branches and at least one police post in protest against the state governor there.

Police said at least eight bank branches were attacked, and for a time several of Sao Paulo's main avenues were blocked.

Tear gas was used to disperse the protesters.

Message for youth

Earlier, Latin America's first pontiff met a group of prisoners in a palace of the Rio archdiocese.

He then emerged on a balcony to address the crowd, urging them to cherish the elderly on Grandparents' Day.

Image caption Young people took part in re-enacting the 14 Stations of the Cross on Rio's Copacabana Beach
Image caption A cross was carried through the crowds on the beach as they waited for Francis, the first Latin American Pope, to arrive
Image caption The Pope expressed understanding for the protests last month against corruption and poor public services across Brazil
Image caption Young Catholics have travelled from around the world to take part in the week-long World Youth Day festival
Image caption But shortly after the Pope finished speaking, a protest against the state governor of Rio broke out on the edges of the crowd
Image caption There were also protests in Sao Paulo, where several bank branches were attacked, along with other businesses, including this car showroom

"How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each and every society," he said.

The Pope then went to a park where he heard three Brazilians, a Venezuelan and an Italian confess their sins.

Brazil is the world's biggest Roman Catholic country, despite the growing popularity of Pentecostal Christianity in the country.

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