''Pope Benedict XVI has celebrated mass in Portugal's northern city of Porto, wrapping up a four-day visit where huge crowds have shown support for the pontiff as he battles a pedophile priest scandal.
He arrived in the city on Friday after a 50-minute helicopter flight from Fatima, where authorities said about half a million people flocked to a mass the day before.
The Vatican said the turnout was a public response to attacks on the 83-year-old leader of the world's Catholics over his handling of the pedophile crisis assailing the church.
Thousands again lined the streets as the Pope made his way through Porto aboard his white popemobile, some throwing rose petals - in one case an entire bouquet that bounced off the vehicle - on a 20-minute ride from the military base where he landed across the Douro River.
Fatima, where the Pope spent almost two days, had always been billed as the spiritual highlight of his visit, and the crowd that greeted him in conservative Porto was appreciably smaller.
Organisers said the venue for his outdoor mass, Avenida dos Aliados Square, could hold 200,000 people but the Vatican estimated the crowd at between 120,000 and 150,000 pilgrims.
Nevertheless, the Pope got an enthusiastic reception here too, with pilgrims chanting "Vivo o Papa" in unison as he stepped onto the altar, preceded by dozens of bishops in scarlet vestments along a red-carpeted gangway as choirs sang out.
In his homily, the Pope told the faithful that the church "is called to face new challenges" in a world where "humanity's anthropological, cultural, social and religious framework has changed".
The rain that poured on a sea of raised umbrellas in the square abated before the mass, but some people wrapped themselves in rugs against the chill.
The Pope on Thursday criticised gay marriage and abortion as "insidious and dangerous threats to the common good" at a time when Portugal is preparing to legalise same-sex unions.
President Anibal Cavaco Silva, a Catholic, must decide whether to sign the bill into law next week, just days after the Pope's departure.
Although he can veto the bill and send it back to parliament, it is certain to be passed in a final vote as left-wing parties backing the bill have a majority.
Ratification would make Portugal the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriages after Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway.
The Pope also described abortion, decriminalised in Portugal in 2007, as a "tragedy" and said the family was based "on the indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman", receiving a standing ovation from his audience of Catholic social workers.
He called in a speech on Portugal's bishops to "rekindle in yourselves as individuals and as a group, a sense of mercy and of compassion" to respond to grave social needs.
Preparations for his visit to Portugal were overshadowed by the sex abuse scandals engulfing his church amid allegations the Vatican had protected paedophile priests from prosecution in several European countries and the US.
But the Vatican said the Pope's position has not been weakened by the crisis.
"What's happened in the last few months, with the problems of the abuse scandal, could lead one to think that the attention and energy towards the Pope has been weakened, but that has not happened," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.''
God be with our beloved Holy Father, he has a heavy burden to bear. Evils are committed constantly, yet few of us Catholic Christians oppose as a result of misguided fear.
Our first duty is to God and His glory, yet too often we wish to mold His revelation to our own image, which destroys its coherence and ultimately, its truth.
May the Virgin of Fatima intercede for us all.