Pope Francis had a message for the world’s youth on Palm Sunday: let your voices be heard.
“There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible,” he said. “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. Dear young people, you have it in you to shout.”
It is “up to you not to keep quiet,” he added. “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?”
The Pope delivered the message during Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican in Rome. The day before worldwide demonstrations organized by youth were held in honor of victims of gun violence. Earlier this week, some 300 youths met at the Vatican and prepared a document for a forthcoming gathering of the Synod of Bishops, an advisory panel for the Pope. The document was presented to Pope Francis on Sunday and asked church leaders to address issues such as helping young people better find their way in the church.
Pope Francis didn’t mention either the gun protests or other specific issues by name, but did recall the significance of World Youth Day before his traditional Sunday prayer at the nd of Mass. World Youth Day was observed this year on Palm Sunday on a religious basis rather than the traditional form as an international gathering.
Yesterday, in the U.S., hundreds of thousands of protestors descended on Washington D.C. to demand changes to the nation’s gun laws. The march was organized by survivors of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, last month.
Nearly 200,000 people attended the March For Our Lives march for gun control on Saturday. Some organizations estimate that more than 850 events took place all over the world, including in all fifty U.S. states. Marchers in countries as far away as Israel, New Zealand, Australia, the U.K., Japan, Belgium, India, France and Chile also participated.
One of the student organizers, Cameron Kasky painted the movement as a defining one for his generation. “We hereby promise to fix the broken system we’ve been forced into and create a better world for the generations to come,” Kasky told the crowd. “Don’t worry, we’ve got this.”
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. It commemorates Jesus’ triumphant return to Jerusalem. Many Christian churches celebrate the occasion by leading processions in which palm fronds are carried.