Masks Banned at Pope Francis' World Youth Day Mass in Rio

Friday, 19 Jul 2013 11:01 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Vatican officials have banned protesters from wearing masks to Pope Francis' World Youth Day mass scheduled for Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro, claiming the disguises could lead to the same unruliness that plagued Brazil last month.

Nearly 2 million people are expected to make the pilgrimage to Rio de Janeiro next week to take part in the Catholic Church's World Youth Day festivities, which will kick off with the pope's mass.

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But last month's rowdy demonstrations against the country's high transport fares, broken healthcare and education systems, and widespread corruption have officials worried. Many of the rioters wore anti-government Guy Fawkes masks to shield their identities.

To avoid a similar situation, no one wearing a mask will be permitted to attend the mass.
"Masked people will be barred from entering," Gen. Jose Alberto da Costa Abreu, who is in charge of security for the Pope's visit, told reporters. "It is not the right space for a subject with a hostile attitude, wearing a mask, to enter. We will not allow this to happen."
Close to 35,000 security officials will be on duty to patrol the crowds at Tuesday's mass, the BBC reported.

Those who are planning to protest peacefully, however, will be allowed to do so, Abreu said.

"A person holding a poster is not a threat," he said.

Pope Francis is encouraging young people to take part in World Youth Day, even promising "plenary indulgences," or time shaved off a future purgatory stay, to those who actively participate via social media.

World Youth Day will be held July 23-28 in Rio de Janeiro.

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