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A day after March for Our Lives, Pope urges youth to speak out

Pope Francis blesses attendees and palm leaves during at St Peter's square on March 25, 2018.

A day after hundreds of thousands of people protested gun violence at March for Our Lives events in the US and around the globe, Pope Francis called on the world’s youth to continue speaking out and standing up.

“Dear young people, you have it in you to shout,” the Pope said in his Palm Sunday address at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

Palm Sunday — celebrated on the Sunday before Easter — is commemorated by Christians as the day Jesus entered Jerusalem in the week of his crucifixion, when palm leaves were strewn in his path. Noting that this Palm Sunday coincides with World Youth Day, the pontiff used the opportunity to compare youth to Jesus’s followers, who were scorned by his detractors.

“It is up to you not to keep quiet,” Pope Francis said. “Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders — so often corrupt — keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?”

A day earlier, survivors of the shooting massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school led protests around the country and even abroad in favor of stricter gun control laws.

That followed the National School Walkout in mid-March, when thousands of students protesting gun violence left their classrooms for 17 minutes — one for each of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day.

In a message prepared in advance of World Youth Day, the Pope told young people: “Do not be afraid to face your fears honestly, to recognize them for what they are and to come to terms with them.”