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In Madrid, pope urges youth to share faith

MADRID -- Pope Benedict XVI urged more than 1.5 million young people to become missionaries for the faith yesterday, giving them words of encouragement as, in concluding a glitch-marred church youth festival, he announced that the next edition will be in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

Benedict told the pilgrims at a Madrid airfield hosting World Youth Day that they should not keep their faith private but should participate fully in the life of their parishes.

"So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith," he said.

Hours earlier, a fierce thunderstorm during a prayer vigil had forced Benedict to cut his remarks short as a tent collapsed and six people were slightly injured.

Some makeshift chapels on the field's perimeter were also damaged, forcing organizers to announce that not everyone would be able to receive Communion during the Mass.

Yago de la Cierva, head of the World Youth Day organizing committee, said almost none of the young people received the Eucharist during the Sunday Mass, a serious letdown for fervent Catholics.

Despite the disappointment, pilgrims who spent the night in sleeping bags, tents and under tarps seemed unfazed as they awoke to sunny skies.

"The night was amazing, I didn't sleep at all," said Adrinna Wista, 21, a Polish pilgrim. "We stayed the night chatting, meeting new people and praying with them. Amazing."

Cristina Velasquez, 29, from Venezuela, said she spent the night with a group of Indian pilgrims after police, who had initially told her the airfield was full, let her in.

No official crowd count was given, but Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said it was "entirely credible" that more than 1.5 million people took part. On Saturday, 2,500 people were treated for mostly heat-related problems as the temperature soared to 104 degrees, organizers said.

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