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Religion

Pope Francis holds mass at Brazil shrine

Pope Francis has held the first public mass of his visit to Brazil in front of tens of thousands of worshippers. He called on young people to shun what he described as the "ephemeral idols" of money and power.

The pope's mass was the first main highlight of his week-long visit to Brazil to visit Catholic World Youth Day festivities. He gave the mass of his first official foreign trip on Wednesday at the Shrine of Virgin Mary at Aparecida to the thousands who had packed into the Basilica, and tens of thousands more outside.

Aparecida, situated about halfway between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and known as one of Latin America's most popular pilgrimage sites, houses a shine of the Virgin Mary who is venerated as the patroness of Brazil. Following a rapturous welcome at the Basililca, Francis called on the pilgrims to resist the "ephemeral idols" of money, power and pleasure to help build a better world.

"It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone including our young people feels attracted by the many idols which take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure," said the pontiff.

Francis celebrates first Brazil Mass

"Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people leads them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols," he added.

Francis urged Catholics to keep their values of faith, generosity and fraternity. He said young people should be "a powerful engine for the Church and for society" and be given the tools to "work actively in building a better world."

Security at Aparecida appeared much more organized that at his arrival in the country on Monday, when crowds surrounded his car. Following the mass, Francis was due to fly back to Rio and tour a drug treatment ward at a hospital run by Franciscan monks.

The main purpose of Francis' visit to Brazil is attend the Roman Catholic World Youth Day festival. The highlight of the five-day festival will be a prayer service, led by Pope Francis, on Rio's Copacabana Beach on Thursday.

Pope names replacement for disgraced Scottish cardinal

The Vatican announced on Wednesday a replacement in Scotland for Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who resigned in February as the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh over allegations of sexual misconduct.

"The Holy Father has named as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Monsignor Leo Cushley," the Vatican said.

Cushley, 52, is currently based in Rome as an official in the secretariat of state.

O'Brien, formerly the United Kingdom's most senior Catholic cleric and a staunch critic of gay rights, later admitted to homosexual liasons with other priests after a newspaper reported unidentified priests' allegations of inappropriate conduct towards them.

Abandoned baby named after Francis

An abandoned newborn baby found in a cardboard box in Brazil has been named in honor of the visiting pontiff, according to the G1 news website.

The website said police took the baby to a local hospital after being alerted by residents in the Bahia state capital Salvador.

"He still had his umbilical cord and was named Francis by police officers in honor of the pope," according to one of those who found the baby.

jr/ccp (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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