Pope tells youth to ‘cry out’ at Palm Sunday Mass including school shooting survivors

Gabriella Zuniga, 16, and her sister Valentina, 15, survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and their mother, Patricia Ortiz, hold signs at the conclusion of Pope Francis' celebration of Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.

Celebrating Palm Sunday Mass with thousands of young people, Pope Francis urged them to continue singing and shouting "hosanna" in the world, proclaiming the lordship of Jesus and following his example of outreach to the poor and suffering.

The crowd that shouted "hosanna" as Jesus entered Jerusalem included all those for whom Jesus was a source of joy, those he healed and forgave, and those he welcomed after they had been excluded from society, the pope said in his homily March 25.


But others were irritated by Jesus and tried to silence his followers, the pope said. In the same way, people today will try to silence young people who continue to follow Jesus, because "a joyful young person is hard to manipulate."

"There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible," the pope said. There are "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."

Pope Francis asked the young people "not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet..."

Pope Francis asked the young people "not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?"

Gabriella Zuniga, 16, and her sister Valentina Zuniga, 15, were among the thousands in St. Peter's Square. The sisters, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, had participated March 24 in the local Rome "March for Our Lives," calling for gun control.

The Palm Sunday Mass marked the local celebration of World Youth Day and included the more than 300 young adults who, at the Vatican's invitation, had spent a week discussing the hopes, desires and challenges facing the world's young people and ways the Catholic Church should respond.

At the end of the Mass, they formally presented their final document to the pope; it will be used, along with input from the world's bishops' conferences, in drafting the working document for the Synod of Bishops in October, which will focus on young people, faith and vocational discernment.

Holding five-foot tall palm branches, the young adults led the procession to the obelisk in the center of St. Peter's Square. They were joined by others carrying olive branches and by bishops and cardinals holding "palmurelli," which are intricately woven palm fronds.

In his homily, Pope Francis said that the Palm Sunday Mass, which begins with the singing of "hosanna" and then moves to the reading of Jesus' passion, combines "stories of joy and suffering, mistakes and successes, which are part of our daily lives as disciples."

The acclamation of the crowd praising Jesus as he enters Jerusalem gives way to the shouts of "crucify him" as Jesus' suffering and death draw near, the pope noted. "It somehow expresses the contradictory feelings that we too, the men and women of today, experience: the capacity for great love, but also for great hatred; the capacity for courageous self-sacrifice, but also the ability to 'wash our hands.'"

The Gospel also demonstrates how the joy Jesus awakened in some is "a source of anger and irritation for others," Pope Francis said, and the same is true today.

Joy is seen in all those "who had followed Jesus because they felt his compassion for their pain and misery," the pope said. "How could they not praise the one who had restored their dignity and hope? Theirs is the joy of so many forgiven sinners who are able to trust and hope once again."

But others in Jerusalem, "those who consider themselves righteous and 'faithful' to the law and its ritual precepts" and "those who have forgotten the many chances they themselves had been given" find such joy intolerable, the pope said.

"How hard it is for the comfortable and the self-righteous to understand the joy and the celebration of God's mercy," he said. "How hard it is for those who trust only in themselves, and look down on others, to share in this joy."

The shouts of "crucify him" did not begin spontaneously, the pope said, but were incited by those who slandered and gave false witness against Jesus, "'spinning' facts and painting them such that they disfigure the face of Jesus and turn him into a 'criminal.'"

Theirs, he said, was "the voice of those who twist reality and invent stories for their own benefit, without concern for the good name of others" and "the cry of those who have no problem in seeking ways to gain power and to silence dissonant voices."

Pope Francis told the young people gathered in the square that in the face of such attempts to demolish hope, kill dreams and suppress joy, Christians must look to Christ's cross and "let ourselves be challenged by his final cry. He died crying out his love for each of us: young and old, saints and sinners, the people of his times and of our own."

"We have been saved by his cross, and no one can repress the joy of the Gospel," he said. "No one, in any situation whatsoever, is far from the Father's merciful gaze."

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Dan Acosta
10 months ago

If I had been tasked to chose a photo to accompany this column, I would not have chosen the one above. Reading these words of Pope Francis, "But others were irritated by Jesus and tried to silence his followers. In the same way, people today will try to silence young people who continue to follow Jesus, because "a joyful young person is hard to manipulate." I would have posted a photo of the persecuted Providence College graduate student who was vilified for promoting the Catholic stand on marriage, or of the young people at the January March for Life holding up signs saying end abortion. But then again, you are America magazine.

Tim Donovan
10 months ago

I've been involved in various ways in the pro-life movement since I was a teenager: writing letters to lawmakers and newspapers, voting for pro-life candidates, making financial contributions to pro-life groups, educational work, as well as in occasion volunteering at alternative -to -abortion groups and making contributions. I agree that it would be worthwhile, given that there are almost 1 million innocent unborn human beings killed each year in our nation, that abortion is the paramount issue facing our nation. I believe we should work to restore legal protection to the unborn to the maximum extent possible, as well as continue to provide compassionate, practical assistance to pregnant women and their children. However, I do believe that passing more stringent gun control laws is also a pro-life issue.
I happen to be a gay Catholic, but I agree that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, so I agree that it's seriously wrong from anyone to be villified for upholding the Catholic (as well as the centuries -old traditional Western view of marriage) stand on marriage. However, as an imperfect Catholic, years ago I gave into temptation and had sex with men. However, I regretted my behavior, and received forgiveness and consolation through the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a compassionate priest. Because like most (if not all?) Catholics, I continue to sin, so I do request my priest to visit me at the nursing home/rehabilitation center where I live (I'm 56, but like many people, I have a chronic health problem -I'm not asking for sympathy, as I know many people have far more severe health problems or disabilities) once a month for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Dan Acosta
10 months ago

God bless you, Mr. Donovan, for your honesty and faith in God and His Church. I will pray for you as you carry your cross of chronic illness with grace and compassion.

Tim Donovan
9 months 4 weeks ago

God bless you, Mr. Acosta, and thanks for your thought ful concern for my health. However, most of the time I do quite well in terms of my health. I hope that God has blessed you with good health. All the best!

Mike Theman
10 months ago

I think it's a sad reflection of what's become of our society that the children are encouraged by the leftists, such as their school teachers, to, essentially, demand that the Federal government resolve the issues of safety that were once the assumed responsibility of their parents.

The Catholic Church has long understood and taught that our society functions best when children are born and raised by loving moms and dads whose primary goal is to make sure that their children have the best chance of survival and to live a good, moral life. How elitist it is of those who feel that we humans lack the ability to self-manage our lives such that the strong arm of the law must be enlisted to protect them from every little problem?

Look at the common characteristics of the perpetrators of violence, be they killers of many at a school or one person in the street. You will find broken families, single moms, and fathers who have vanished. We don't need marches against violence or firearms. We need marches for families; for moms and dads taking responsibility for protecting their offspring; for dads being closely involved with their children; and for an end to public-government schools that assume the role of parents and to which parents abdicate their responsibilities not only to teach their kids morality, but to feed them in some instances. Sad.

Tim Donovan
10 months ago

I have mixed feelings about your comments, Mike. I do believe in stringent gun control , (and I'm a registered Republican) and as one who became involved as a teenager in the late 1970's in the pro-life/anti-abortion movement, I do think it's both acceptable and commendable for teens and young people to march against gun violence. However, as one who had the great fortune and blessing of being raised by two loving parents, I agree that society functions best when children are raised by two loving parents who do their best to impart good moral values to them. I do Also agree that it often has a seriously negative effect on children when their fathers abandon the family, or never are involved with their children in the first place. However, I do believe that single parents can with the rightful support of friends and other family members can be good parents. I'm a retired Special Education teacher who taught brain damaged children, many of whom had physical disabilities and/or behavior disorders. My job was challenging but rewarding, and while I agree that parents have the primary responsibility to care for their children, and some public school teachers take on too much moral responsibility, since most children attend public schools, I do think that public education (aside from being a right) is also in many ways beneficial in terms of teaching children the basics in academics.

Edward Graff
10 months ago

When the Pope, the Catholic Bishops, Tradition, reason, and basic human decency are allied together on one side of an issue and the NRA and Fox News are on the other, it shouldn't be this hard to discern what should be done. Do better, guys.

David Silva
10 months ago

My people — children are their oppressors,
and women rule over them.
O my people, your leaders mislead you,
and confuse the course of your paths.
Isaiah 3:12 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Douglas Fang
10 months ago

It is so pathetic and shameful to see the so-called Adult Catholics that act so cowardly in the face of the NRA and the gun lobby. No wonder why the young people are increasingly becoming the “Nones” as they see that these Catholic adults do NOTHING to help their cause. Worse, they even attack their efforts. There is nothing more ridiculous in modern society – blaming the kids for the coward and stupidity of the adults! And the so-called Adult Catholics now also attack the Pope and this magazine!!!

This debate is not about taking away the gun, every type of gun! This debate is about sensible and rational gun control, especially for assault type guns that can be used for mass killing. Saying otherwise is a complete and blatant lie. Period.

The NRA is not fighting for the second amendment or for responsible gun owners. The NRA is a LOBBY FOR THE GUN MANUFACTURERS and their clients want to sell high ticket-price, high margin assault weapons. So they twist the minds of Americans and corrupt the political system to conflate responsible gun ownership with a free-for-all of unchecked violence.

Douglas Fang
10 months ago

This is something shared by Josh Brown from TheReformedBroker (I follow him closely for his wise investment advice as any sane capitalist...)

“I’m really proud to live in a country like this, where people can come out and stand up for themselves.
I’m also in awe of some of the young people who’ve been speaking out about their rights not to get shot in school or movie theaters or walking down the street. They have complete command of the issues, statistics, and laws surrounding the topic, they speak with poise and confidence in a way I could never have when I was in my teens.
And then there’s this girl – eleven years old, the same age as my daughter. I’m just blown away by this speech. And it makes me feel good about what the next generation is going to do for our country” – just look on YouTube for “Naomi Wadler speech”

This makes the comment from the hardcore Catholic former presidential candidate Rick Santorum “...Kids Should Learn CPR Instead Of Rallying For Gun Laws...” looks absolutely ridiculous and laughable! Heaven Helps Us!

Dolores Pap
10 months ago

These are the kids who make be proud of America! They will not forget, when they are able to vote, the party that is pushing policies that are the absolute antithesis of everything good about America and Americans, and they will not be voting for them.

Nora Bolcon
10 months ago


Nora Bolcon
10 months ago

The acclamation of the crowd praising Jesus as he enters Jerusalem gives way to the shouts of "crucify him" as Jesus' suffering and death draw near, the pope noted. "It somehow expresses the contradictory feelings that we too, the men and women of today, experience: the capacity for great love, but also for great hatred; the capacity for courageous self-sacrifice, but also the ability to 'wash our hands.'"

Pope Francis - please read your own advice and treat your sisters accordingly by ordaining those among them who were called to priesthood no less than you by God Almighty. You can't be the great guy all about Love with your heel on the back of your sisters who have repeatedly begged you to allow them to enjoy, with the Joy you experienced, the vocation of ordained priesthood they were called within which to rejoice. You alone keep from them their right to answer their sacred vocation while you make sure they remain silenced at every synod by keeping them from the right to vote even on issues of family. This is done out of sexism which you have allowed to enter into your own heart and which is rooted in the hatred and distrust of all women. I ask, no demand that you give up this hatred and treat your sisters in Christ according to the commands of Christ which demands the same exact treatment as you treat your brothers.

Dan Acosta
10 months ago

Ms Bolton: Look in the mirror. I suspect you were one of those who, at Pope Francis' election, shed tears of joy and shouted Hosanna from your front door that finally a savior had come for liberal Catholicism. But, since Francis is not the type of savior you required, you are now nailing him to the cross of sexism. Look at the beam in your own eye.


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