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Pope: Being “Cool” Is Not Enough

Pope Francis told a global gathering of young Catholics on Thursday that meaningful service was key to attracting a new generation of faithful, rather than trying to make the Church more “fun” or “cool.”

The 82-year-old pope received a rock-star welcome by tens of thousands of young people when he arrived for the World Youth Day event at a palm-fringed park on the shores of Panama Bay.

Dozens of young pilgrims held up a giant yellow, blue and red banner with the legend “Pray for Venezuela”.

A faithful holds a souvenir doll of Pope Francis next to a Venezuelan national flag, while gathering alongside the street to see him, during the World Youth Days in Panama City on January 24, 2019. – Pope Francis will on Thursday formally open World Youth Day celebrations which have drawn around 200,000 young people from around the world to Panama where he is expected to defend Central American migrants and human rights. (Photo by Raul Arboleda / AFP)

After arriving in his Popemobile, two young Panamanians accompanied the pope through a replica of the locks of the Panama Canal.

“We want to tell you not to be afraid,” the pope said, urging them instead to go forward with “fresh energy and restlessness.”

“To go forward, not to create a parallel Church that would be more ‘fun’ or ‘cool’ thanks to a fancy youth event, as if that were all you needed or wanted.


“That way of thinking would not respect either you or everything that the Spirit is saying through you. Not at all!

Instead, in order to reawaken the Church’s “constant freshness and youth” the pope emphasized “service to our brothers and sisters, and concrete service at that.”

Francis earlier spoke out in defense of migrants, blasting “fears and suspicions” over migration in an address to Central American bishops, and he returned to the theme again here.

“By your actions and your approach, your way of looking at things,” he told the young people, “you discredit and defuse the kind of talk that is intent on sowing division, on excluding or rejecting those who are not ‘like us’.”

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