Thu | Jan 18, 2018

Pope Francis challenges youth to believe

Published:Monday | August 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a mass at the conclusion of the World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland yesterday. The Mass was the final part of the World Youth Day, a global celebration of young Catholics, on the fifth day of the Pope's visit to Poland.


Pope Francis encouraged hundreds of thousands of young people at a global gathering of the faithful on Sunday to "believe in a new humanity" that is stronger than evil and refuses to see borders as barriers.

His appeal came at the end of World Youth Day, a week-long event being held in southern Poland this year that draws young Catholics from around the world every two to three years for a spiritual pep rally.

The youth gathering was Francis' main focus during his pilgrimage to Poland, but over five days in this deeply Catholic nation he also prayed at the former Nazi Auschwitz death camp and implored God to keep away a devastating wave of terrorism now hitting the world. He also met with Poland's political and church leaders.

A huge crowd filled a vast field on Sunday in the gentle countryside outside the city of Krakow to see Francis, who was visiting central and eastern Europe for the first time. Security was very high throughout the pope's visit, coming at a time of terror attacks in Western Europe.

Many of the faithful had camped out overnight after an evening of entertainment and prayer with the pope in the same field Saturday night that drew 1.6 million people, according World Youth Day organisers.




The pope used his several encounters with the young pilgrims to encourage a new generation to work for peace, reconciliation and justice. God, said Francis in his final homily of the pilgrimage, "demands of us real courage, the courage to be more powerful than evil, by loving everyone, even our enemies.

"People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded," Francis told his flock, many of them in their late teens, 20s or 30s.

The World Youth Day events took place amid very high security following a string of extremist attacks in Western Europe, with an elderly French priest being slain in his Normandy church on Tuesday, the day before Francis arrived in Poland.

At the end of Sunday's Mass, Francis announced that the next World Youth Day will take place in Panama in 2019.