RIO DE JANEIRO (KTLA) – Pope Francis drew an estimated 3 million faithful to Rio’s Copacabana beach Sunday for the final Mass of his historic first papal visit abroad.
It was one of the largest turnouts for a papal Mass in history.
Speaking from a stage erected on the beach, Francis urged those gathered for World Youth Day to spread the Gospel “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.
The Argentine-born pontiff also urged the massive crowd to help rebuild a church that has suffered declining membership in Latin America, a region once dominated almost exclusively by Catholicism.
Among those attending the Mass were the presidents of Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia.
Pope Francis was scheduled to return to Europe later Sunday.