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Pope warns Latin America against legalizing drugs

Pope Francis has warned Latin America against legalizing drugs, arguing in sharply-worded and highly political remarks that liberal policies under consideration in his home region will not reduce the problem. The Argentine-born pontiff delved into the hot topic on Wednesday after celebrating the first public mass of his week-long visit to Brazil, in which he has sought to deliver a message of hope to the poor and vulnerable. He drew a line against drugs as he met crack addicts and inaugurated a rehabilitation ward at a Rio de Janeiro hospital run by Franciscan monks.

Pope warns Latin America against legalizing drugs

Pope Francis warned Latin America against legalizing drugs on Wednesday, delving into a hot topic in his home region after celebrating the first public mass of his landmark visit to Brazil. The Argentine-born pontiff, who has championed the cause of the poor and vulnerable, drew a line against drugs as he met crack addicts and inaugurated a rehab ward at a Rio de Janeiro hospital run by Franciscan monks.

Pope asks youth not to give in to idols of money, power

Aparecida, Brazil, Jul 24 (EFE).- Pope Francis on Wednesday placed his life, his pontificate and the Latin American people under the protection of the Virgin of Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil, and urged young people to be the architects of a more just world. Two days after arriving in Rio de Janeiro to preside at the 28th World Youth Day event, Francis traveled Wednesday to the town of Aparecida, where he was welcomed by 200,000 people who braved the rainy, chilly conditions currently prevailing in that part of Brazil.

Pope decries money, power 'idols' in first Brazil mass

Pope Francis led Wednesday his first large mass since returning to his native Latin America, decrying "ephemeral idols" like money and power at Brazil's most revered shrine. Thousands of pilgrims had braved the cold and rain hours before the Argentine-born pontiff joined them at the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in the state of Sao Paulo. "What joy I feel as I come to the house of the mother of every Brazilian, the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida," Pope Francis said in the grandiose basilica after arriving from Rio de Janeiro by plane.

Hundreds of thousands of Catholics swarm Rio beach

Hundreds of thousands of young Catholics packed the beach of Copacabana Tuesday for the start of a weeklong religious event in Rio de Janeiro that includes gatherings with Pope Francis. Rain clouds cleared in time and pilgrims from around the world waved flags, sang and prayed as the archbishop of Rio, Orani Tempesta, led a mass to kick off World Youth Day in the country with the world's greatest number of Roman Catholics. Still, the Vatican sees its church here as under threat -- to secularism and fast-growing Protestantism.

Explosive found at Brazil shrine before pope trip

A homemade explosive device was discovered in the bathroom of the parking garage of the Brazilian shrine that Pope Francis will visit this week, the military said Monday. The military said the device was destroyed after its discovery on Sunday at the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida between Rio and Sao Paulo, which the pope is due to visit on Wednesday. A Sao Paulo military police spokesman told AFP that the explosive was "insignificant, of low power" and that it was not in an area that the pope or pilgrims would have gone to.

Small explosive found near Brazilian sanctuary before pope's visit

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian police found a small homemade explosive in a parking garage near a Catholic sanctuary in the city of Aparecida where Pope Francis is scheduled to visit later this week, a state news service said on Monday. The explosive, made with a plastic pipe wrapped in tape, was safely detonated by a police bomb squad.

Pope may meet footballers during Brazil trip

Pope Francis may meet with footballers during his trip to Brazil for this year's global Catholic youth festival in Rio de Janeiro which two million young people are expected to attend, organisers said on Thursday. "A meeting with football players is one of the ideas on the table" for the July trip, Eric Jacquinet told the Catholic SIR news agency, though it was not clear whether the 76-year-old Argentinian pope would watch a match. "We can reasonably expect some two million young people to converge in Rio" for the event, he said.

Brazil bishops hail "humility" of resigning Pope

Brazilian Catholic bishops on Monday hailed the "humility and greatness" of Pope Benedict XVI on learning of his imminent resignation due to old age. "We greet with filial love the reasons given by his holiness, sign of the humility and greatness which characterized the eight years of his pontificate," they said in a statement. The German-born leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics announced earlier Monday that he would resign on February 28 due to old age, after just eight years as pope, one of the shortest pontificates in modern history.
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