It was a welcome befitting a global rock star.... Tens of thousands of worshippers young and old flooded the capital of Madagascar Saturday for a chance to see Pope Francis up close.
SOUNDBITE (FRENCH WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION) FIDELIS, 20-YEAR-OLD LOCAL RESIDENT: "Well, my emotion is that I'm so happy, we jumped with joy, like everyone, we are happy to see the Pope arriving in Madagascar." Arriving in the so-called Pope mobile to a thronging crowd, Pope Francis was greeted by singing and dancing along his route ahead of an outdoor evening rally for the country's youth.
The day's joyful celebrations included many chances for Madagascar's youth to show off their dance moves on stage before the leader of the world's 1.3 billion Roman catholics.
Speaking to the leaders of one of the world's poorest countries, Francis issued a stark warning against environmental exploitation.
More than 90% of the french-speaking residents on the African Island nation live on less that $2 a day, according to estimates by the United Nations World Food Program.
A condemnation to those profiting from excessive and rapid deforestation, endemic corruption and the theft of natural resources that if handled correctly could benefit more of the Island's 26 million residents.
He urged the young to help bring social justice to their country.
That message was well received by those who attended.
SOUNDBITE (FRENCH WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION) DOMINIC, 25-YEAR-OLD LOCAL RESIDENT: "It's a real pleasure for me to see the Pope in person because all this time I watch him on TV and I'm very impressed by his will to come to Madagascar." A sentiment shared by many in attendance, who saw a visit from the Pope as nothing less than a slice of heaven on earth.