Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Papal visit to Rio turns 'sin city' into center of contrition

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Temptation is obvious everywhere — there are the beaches and the bikinis, the sultry samba beat and, as even the visiting Pope Francis cautioned in a memorable quip, the local sugar-cane-based liquor, cachaca, which packs a wallop.

Rio's enthralling attributes weren't lost on Carlos Carrillo, a 37-year-old American pilgrim who said he was well aware of the place's ribald reputation before he arrived for the pope's first overseas journey. "This is sin city," said Carrillo, a cargo screener who traveled with seven others from his California parish.

But during the pontiff's visit, which ends today with a final Mass on the usually hedonistic Copacabana beach, the bawdy Rio of samba nightclubs and Carnaval gave way to a different kind of festival: the weeklong annual World Youth Day, a gathering of young Catholics from around the globe who this year came to Brazil to renew their faith with Francis at the dawn of his papacy.

Think of it as Woodstock for Catholics, minus Jimi Hendrix, the free love and the marijuana.

"Show your love for Christ," Francis exhorted, and they have, coming from nearly 180 countries to atone for sins and strengthen their bond with the church. That they are doing it in Rio — a city world-famous for drunken revelry that has earned it the church's censure over the years — at first might seem to be a contradiction.

But while Rio may be known for luring partygoers, it also has long attracted missionaries, preachers and Christian soldiers who know they'll find folks in need of spiritual cleansing — sinners of every stripe. The proof is in the elaborate evangelical churches in the city, among the world's biggest.

"Biblically speaking, Christ always goes to the darkest places," Carrillo said. "The way I see it, he's reeling in people, in that sense."

Many young Catholics here said they came to focus on their faith, not Rio's enticements. Camila Lara, 18, from Parana state in Brazil's south, said she was especially drawn by the chance to show contrition, made easy here by the Catholic Church's "we'll-come-to-you" strategy.

She asked for forgiveness, like many others, at Rio's Quinta da Boa Vista Park, where priests and the pope listened to penitents in dozens of makeshift confessionals (Francis heard from three Brazilians, a Venezuelan and an Italian).

"Sincerely, for me, it was the best confession I ever had," Lara said.

For the Rev. Antoine d'Eudeville, a priest from Paris who heard confessions in the park, it was an unusually gratifying experience. He had just heard the pope speak Friday night from an elaborate stage on the beach and was reflecting on a spirited week.

"For us priests, it's a special time, because it's not usual to have young people come to us asking for forgiveness," d'Eudeville said. "Some people don't go for years."

D'Eudeville commented on how Catholicism in Brazil, a country he had never visited, seems to be so much "more a part of people's lives, more so than in France."

He was especially moved, he said, by the young Catholics seeking absolution.

"Young people here are strengthened in their faith, in their trust in God," he said. "They dare go to confession and go to a priest and say heavy things, unload heavy burdens."

Young Catholics interviewed in the streets of Copacabana, their countries' flags draped across their shoulders, said they were heeding the pontiff's message. And Francis, who has been lauded for his plainspoken ways, told his followers: "Jesus never tires of forgiving us."

A live image of Pope Francis is broadcast at a vigil with pilgrims on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday night. The pope’s first visit overseas has drawn young Catholics from around the globe for World Youth Day to a city normally famous for drunken revelry.

Associated Press

A live image of Pope Francis is broadcast at a vigil with pilgrims on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday night. The pope’s first visit overseas has drawn young Catholics from around the globe for World Youth Day to a city normally famous for drunken revelry.

Pope draws 3M

for evening vigil

Pope Francis drew a reported 3 million flag-waving, rosary-toting faithful to Rio's Copacabana beach on Saturday for the final evening of World Youth Day. The vigil service capped a busy day for the pope in which he drove home a message he has emphasized throughout the week in speeches, homilies and off-the-cuff remarks: the need for Catholics, lay and religious, to shake up the status quo, get out of their stuffy sacristies and reach the faithful on the margins of society or risk losing them to rival churches.

Associated Press

Papal visit to Rio turns 'sin city' into center of contrition 07/27/13 [Last modified: Saturday, July 27, 2013 11:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival wraps up with Above and Beyond, more at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    The first numbers trickled in on Sunday, and they didn't look great.

    Louis the Child performed at the Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium on May 28, 2017.
  2. Philippines forces make gains in city under siege by ISIS-linked militants

    MARAWI, Philippines — Philippine forces say they now control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago.

  3. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  4. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  5. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.