Pope Francis on Sunday opened Holy Week services leading up to Easter by urging young people to “keep shouting” and not let “older generations” silence them.
His comments came one day after hundreds of thousands of students and others across the nation marched in support of stricter gun control laws. The movement is being led by survivors from the mass killing in February that left 17 dead at a Florida high school.
A key leader of the movement is Marjory Stoneman Douglas High student David Hogg. Hogg, a founder of the group Never Again MSD, has led and inspired the speeches and actions by other young people. Some of his comments have been riddled with profanity, and he has referred to adults as "old a** parents," "pathetic f***ers" and "sh***y" people.
What did the pope say?
“The temptation to silence young people has always existed,” Francis said in the homily of a mass, Reuters reported.
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.
Dear young people, you have it in you to shout, he said, urging youths to be like the people who welcomed Jesus with palms, instead of those who called for his crucifixion.
It is up to you not to keep quiet. 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?
Young people in the crowd then shouted, “Yes!”
The pope stopped short of mentioning U.S. gun control marches by name, but various published reports assumed he was, in fact, alluding to them.
Saturday's marches were filled with hateful rhetoric. In addition to strong language used by Hogg, numerous signs from the protests that were posted on social media also featured swearing, such as one that stated: “When I said I’d rather die than go to math class, that was hyperbole, a**holes.”
Does the pope advocate gun control?
In the past, the pope has been a staunch advocate for gun control, going as far as saying that people working in the weapons industry cannot claim to be Christians.
“It makes me think of ... people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn’t it?” the pope previously said.
The pope lives in Vatican City, a private city-state with its own police force.