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Francis repeated that stirring message Sunday in his homily, saying he was counting on young Catholics in particular to be "missionary disciples" in spreading the faith.
"Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers and selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world," he said.
It seemed the message was getting through.
"I used to go to Mass every week but now I go every other week, if that," said Larissa Miranda, a 20-year-old law student from rural Rio de Janeiro state who moved to the city two years ago. "But this event had made me realize that I need to get active again and get back to church every week."
The Rev. Jean-Luc Zadroga, a Benedictine monk who was leading a group of 14 students from a Catholic university in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, said it was clear Francis had connected with the crowd, particularly the locals.
"He’s really trying to reach out to Catholics who have fallen away from the church or disappointed with the church and I think it’s working," he said.
Associated Press writer Marco Sibaja and Bradley Brooks contributed to this report.
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