RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian researchers say the Roman Catholic Church's estimate of the crowd that turned out to see Pope Francis celebrate Mass on Copacabana beach is inflated, if still impressive.
The Vatican says 3.7 million people turned out last Sunday to see the pope in Rio de Janeiro.
But one of Brazil's top polling and research firms says it would be physically impossible to cram that many people into the area where the crowd was gathered, an area it calculated before the event using satellite images.
Alessandro Janoni is the director of research for the independent Datafolha group.
He estimates the crowd at the Mass was at most 1.5 million people, which he called a generous estimate.