Pope Francis says young people have been ‘condemned to have no place’ in New Year’s Eve prayers

The world ‘idolises youth’ but has no interest in young people, the pope said

Andrew Griffin
Saturday 31 December 2016 21:23
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Pope Francis smiles as he visits the traditional Crib in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on December 31, 2016
Pope Francis smiles as he visits the traditional Crib in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on December 31, 2016

Pope Francis has excoriated the world for idolising youth but having no interest in young people.

The young have no place in society, he said, and are gradually being pushed to the edges of public life. That is leading them to move around for jobs or be forced to beg for them, and even that isn’t keeping them safe, he said.

The Pope made the remarks after spending the last hours of 2016 exchanging greetings with the faithful in a cold St Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis visits the traditional Crib in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on December 31, 2016

After the traditional evening prayers inside the basilica, he made his way through the crowd towards a life-size Nativity scene.

In those crowds he shook hands, kissed children on the cheek and took small gifts.

During the evening prayers, the Pope called on Catholics to help young people find purpose in the world, noting the paradox of "a culture that idolises youth" and yet has made no place for the young.

"We have condemned our young people to have no place in society, because we have slowly pushed them to the margins of public life, forcing them to migrate or to beg for jobs that no longer exist or fail to promise them a future," he added.

More than responsibility, the Pope said the world owed young people "a debt" because they have been deprived of "dignified and genuine work" that would allow them to take part in society, instead condemning them "to knock on doors that for the most part remain closed."

Youth joblessness in Italy stands at more than 36 per cent and tops 18 per cent among the 28 European Union states.

In Africa, the continent with the world's youngest population, youth unemployment probably increased in 2016, and was near 30 per cent in North Africa, according to the International Labour Organisation.

Poverty and lack of opportunity in Africa is driving migration, particularly to Europe. Almost 5,000 men, women and children died attempting to reach Europe by boat from North Africa in 2016.

Additional reporting by agencies

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