Rio's Copacabana stages show for Pope
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - 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 befitting its improbable location, Rio's hedonistic Copacabana beach.
Copacabana, which hosts Carnival and Rolling Stones concerts, lived up to its reputation by staging a wildly theatrical telling of the Way 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. Pope Francis looked on silently.
The procession is one of the mainstay events of World Youth Day, designed to remind young Catholics about the root of their faith that Jesus Christ died to forgive their sins. Pope Francis drove home that message at the start of Friday, hearing the confessions of five young pilgrims in a Rio park.
"It was just five minutes, it followed the regular ritual of confession, but then Pope Francis stayed and talked with us," said one of the five, Estefani Lescano, 21, a student from La Guaira, Venezuela. "It was all very personal. He told us that young people have the responsibility of keeping the church alive and spreading the word of Christ."