Pope Francis took some time during his Palm Sunday sermon to express his support for young people all over the world, telling them: “you have it in you to shout.”
The Pope’s comments come on the heels of Saturday’s March For Our Lives rally in Washington DC and across the world organized by survivors of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“The temptation to silence young people has always existed,” Francis said during Palm Sunday mass. “There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anesthetize them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing. There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive.”
Francis did not specifically mention the hundreds of thousands who gathered in Washington on Saturday or the more than 800 sister marches taking place all over the world. But it’s hard to believe the Pope’s comments about youth voices are a coincidence.
“It is up to you not to keep quiet,” Francis said, addressing young people. “Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, some corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?”
To that question, the young people in St. Peter’s Square to attend the church’s World Day of Youth shouted back, “Yes!”
The Pope’s words also come after meeting with a group of 300 young people at the Vatican earlier in the week. That group urged the Catholic Church to become more modern and accepting of young people.
“We, the young church, ask that our leaders speak in practical terms about subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues,” the group wrote in a document submitted to the church. “We need a church that is welcoming and merciful, which appreciates its roots and patrimony and which loves everyone, even those who are not following the perceived standards.”
How Pope Francis responds to that message from the church’s youth remains to be seen. However, it’s reassuring to hear the Pope speak so favorably about young people throughout the world being unafraid to voice their opinions.