published Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Pope to packed stadium: Families are under attack

  • photo
    The image of Pope Francis is projected on a giant screen as he delivers his speech during a meeting at Rome's Olympic stadium, on June 1, 2014.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ROME — Pope Francis has led a pep rally to boost faith at Rome's soccer stadium, packed with more than 50,000 Catholics who follow charismatic movements, which he jokingly likened to samba dancing.

Hands raised in unison, the faithful prayed in Olympic Stadium Sunday for Francis, who repeatedly has asked his church for prayers.

Francis told the faithful that the devil wants to destroy the family, which he described as the "domestic church." Bishops from worldwide will meet in Rome in October to discuss problems afflicting families.

Francis told the crowd that when he was Buenos Aires archbishop, at first he didn't "share" the way the exuberant charismatic Catholics prayed there. "I thought you were more like a samba school," the pope said, drawing laughter. But he came to later to realize that "charismatic renewal is a great force" for the Catholic Church, Francis said.

Dynamic, evangelical Protestant groups have drawn many Latin American Catholics to their ranks. Charismatic Catholicism stresses the Holy Spirit and seeks to inject renewed fervor in flagging faith, such as through door-to-door evangelizing.

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