Pope Francis, starting Holy Week services leading to Easter, urged young people on Sunday to keep shouting and not allow the older generations to silence their voices or anesthetize their idealism. "The temptation to silence young people has always existed". Noting that this Palm Sunday coincides with World Youth Day, the pontiff used the opportunity to compare youth to Jesus's followers, who were scorned by his detractors.
He said "it is up to you not to keep quiet" and "even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?"
The pope's words commence Holy Week for the Roman Catholic Church, which will retrace Jesus' journey from crucifixion to resurrection.
Francis spoke a day after hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters answered a call to action from survivors of last month's Florida high school massacre and rallied across the United States to demand tighter gun laws.
Before his traditional Sunday prayer at the end of Mass, the pope recalled the importance World Youth Day, marked this year on Palm Sunday at a diocesan level rather than as a big global gathering.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was hailed as a savior, according to the Bible.
Believers gathered on Sunday morning for mass in Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican City in Rome.
The pope concluded by greeting the faithful in St. Peter's Square, getting out of the popemobile to shake hands as many cheered and took pictures.
Referencing the Sunday speech on his official Twitter profile, which has amassed more than 17 million global followers, Francis' account wrote: "Dear young people, never get exhausted of being instruments of peace and joy among your peers!"
At the end of the Mass, they formally presented their final document to the Pope; it will be used, along with input from the world's bishops' conferences, in drafting the working document for the Synod of Bishops in October, which will focus on young people, faith and vocational discernment.
The report also urged church officials to find ways to connect to young people, who often feel "indifference, judgment, and rejection" from the church.
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