Pope Francis Tells Young Catholics To “Lead the Church’s Future” — Referred to his own mortality twice — Celebrated The Family

Peace and Freedom

By NICOLE WINFIELD
Associated Press

ROME (AP) – Pope Francis urged young people to lead the church’s future Saturday even as he voiced doubts that he’d be around much longer to see it.

The 80-year-old pope referred to his own mortality twice in the span of a few minutes during a vigil service to rally enthusiasm for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day, to be held in Panama in 2019.

“I don’t know if it will be me, but the pope will be in Panama!” he told the crowd at the St. Mary Major basilica.

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino). Pope Francis prays in front of a portrait of the Virgin Mary as he arrives in at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome to preside over a vigil prayer, Saturday, April 8, 2017.
Pope Francis prays in front of a portrait of the Virgin Mary as he arrives in at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome to preside over a vigil prayer, Saturday, April 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino).

A few minutes earlier, he drew gasps from the pews when he teased: “At my age, we (old people) are…

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