RIO DE JANEIRO
Pope Francis’ historic trip to his home continent ended Sunday after a marathon weeklong visit to Brazil that drew millions of people onto the sands of Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Copacabana beach and appeared to reinvigorate the clergy and faithful alike in the world’s largest Catholic country.
Dignitaries including Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer turned out at Rio’s Antonio Carlos Jobim international airport to bid farewell to the Argentine-born pontiff.
Speaking from a stage on the sands of Copacabana on Sunday, Francis urged a crowd estimated at 3 million people to go out and spread their faith “to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you!” he said to applause in his final homily of World Youth Day festivities.
Later Sunday, he issued a more pointed message to the region’s bishops, telling them to better look out for their flocks and put an end to the “clerical” culture that places priests on pedestals — often with what Francis called the “sinful complicity” of lay Catholics who hold the clergy in such high esteem.
The Vatican said more than 3 million people were on hand for the Mass.
Francis announced Sunday that the next World Youth Day would take place in Krakow, Poland, in 2016.