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Hundreds of Thousands of Youth converge on Rio de Janeiro for the World Youth Day 2013

Thousands of catholic youth from different parts of the world have arrived in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro to begin the World Youth Day events. The city is overseen by a big welcoming statue of Christ the Redeemer. The residents have prepared a uniquely Rio de Janeiro welcome for the Pope, building from sand at the famous beach of Copacabana big images of the Pope. Youth who were interviewed on Sunday at Rio de Janeiro said the pope had rekindled their faith and that he had brought the catholic church closer to the people because he practices what he preaches. The Archbishop of the Brazilian archdiocese of Sao Paolo, Cardinal Odilo Scherer, told reporters that Pope Francis has a new way to interact with the world by the manner he communicates. However, despite the optimism the Pope has created in Brazil, the number of Catholics in the country has decreased. According to the figures published by the office of the national census, when Pope John Paul the second made his first Apostolic visit to Brazil, Catholics were 89 percent of the total population. By 2010 the figure had dropped to 65 percent. Many of those who left the Catholic Church joined the Pentecostal and evangelical churches and others became victims of secularism. Shortly after his arrival on Monday evening, Pope Francis is scheduled to meet the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff. He will take day off on Tuesday and on Wednesday he will visit the sanctuary of our lady of Aparecida in the state of Sao Paolo. He will begin the World Youth Day activities on Thursday at the beach of Copacabana.
In a related development thousands of young Roman Catholics from around Latin America have started arriving in Rio de Janeiro in buses and plane flights. Thirty thousand are from Argentina. Many of the Argentines are the poor from the slums of Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, where Pope Francis had fostered close ties with children, youth and their families before he became Pope. Their tickets were paid by the archdiocese of Buenos Aires. Before leaving for Rio de Janeiro, they told reporters in Buenos Aires that the organisers had planned a meeting for them with the children of the biggest slum at Rio de Janeiro with whom they will share stories about Pope Francis whom they affectionately call the pope of the slum dwellers. The government of Brazil is also sending a big delegation to the World Youth Day. The country’s President, Cristina Fernandez, said she would be present at Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday at the opening ceremony. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has invited the Heads of state and government of South America to the closing mass on July 28th.


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