At Vatican’s celebration of youth, pontiff warns against pursuit of possessions and latest fashions.
Teenagers will not find happiness by downloading a smartphone app or acting like a movie star, Pope Francis has said as part of the Vatican’s weekend celebration of young people.
“Your happiness has no price. It cannot be bought. It is not an app that you can download on your phones, nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love,”
the pope told Catholic youth gathered under grey skies in St Peter’s Square on Sunday.
Speaking during mass to mark the three-day celebration for teenagers, tied to the Vatican’s jubilee year of mercy, the 79-year-old pontiff addressed a host of pressures adolescents face in the 21st century.
“Don’t believe those who would distract you from the real treasure, which you are, by telling you that life is beautiful only if you have many possessions,”
Francis said.“Be sceptical about people who want to make you believe that you are only important if you act tough, like the heroes infilms, or when you wear the latest fashions.”
About 70,000 people aged 13 to 16 gathered at theVaticanto listen to the Argentinian pontiff, who also cautioned them against “simply going with the flow” and being too laid-back.
On Saturday evening Francis sent a video message to the teenagers as they gathered in Rome’s Olympic stadium, clutching a smartphone and talking about the times he was unable to reach friends.
“Just remember that if Jesus is not in your life, it is as though there is no signal,” he said.
Earlier on Saturday the pope had surprised teenagers by appearing in St Peter’s Squareto hear their confessions. “It was the most emotional day of my life,” Anna Taibi, a 15-year-old Sicilian scout,told La Repubblica newspaper afterwards.
Francis’s informal tone has seen him become increasingly popular among Catholic youth, and the Vatican is taking steps to ensure he is a growing presence inteenagers’ lives.
Last month he launchedan Instagram account, which has already attracted 2.3 million followers, while regular updates are also posted on his nine Twitter accounts.