WYD 2016 Closing Mass: Francis urges youth to be hope of a 'new humanity'

Pope Francis has told more than two million pilgrim youths gathered on a vast plain in Kraków to proclaim hope "with a smile and open arms" and be the vanguard of a "new humanity" that breaks down borders, reports NCR Online

In a homily last night for the festive closing Mass of World Youth Day, the pontiff told the youths that God is demanding "real courage" from them: The courage to exercise the power of mercy and forgiveness to heal the world.

"How truly hard it is to welcome Jesus, how hard it is to accept a 'God who is rich in mercy,'" the Pope said.

"People will try to block you, to make you think that God is distant, rigid and insensitive, good to the good, and bad to the bad," Francis warned. "Instead, our heavenly father 'makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good".

"He demands of us real courage: The courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies," the Pope continued. "People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid.

"People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded", he told the youths.

"Don’t be discouraged!" he exhorted. "With a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully!"

Francis was speaking in the last major event of his five-day trip to Poland, in which he celebrated World Youth Day events but also touched on political themes with the country's leaders and made a symbol-laden visit to the World War II concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Enthusiasm for the Pope's visit has been high, with many of those who attended the Mass on Sunday sleeping outside at the venue overnight to preserve their spots. Most had simply stayed there after a prayer vigil with Francis at the same field on Saturday evening, which organisers said attracted some close to 2.5 million people.

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