Pope praises youth, calls for fair, peaceful solution to Venezuela crisis

Pope Francis gestures during his visit to the Casa Hogar 'El Buen Samaritano' in Panama City, Panama, 27 January 2019. EFE/EPA/ETTORE FERRARI

Pope Francis gestures during his visit to the Casa Hogar ‘El Buen Samaritano’ in Panama City, Panama, 27 January 2019. EFE/EPA/ETTORE FERRARI


Pope Francis on Sunday thanked those who organized and participated in World Youth Day in Panama and said that the young people have “rocked Panama, the Americas and the whole world.”

After the closing WYD Mass on John Paul II field in Panama City, Francis thanked President Juan Carlos Varela for his attendance, along with the presidents of other nations as well as assorted political and civil officials.

The pontiff also expressed his thanks to Panamanian Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta for “his availability and his good offices by welcoming this Day in his diocese” as well as to the other bishops of Panama and neighboring countries “for all you have done in their communities to provide shelter and aid to so many young people.”

“Thanks to all those people who have sustained us with their prayers and who have collaborated with their efforts and work to make this dream of WYD a reality in this country,” he added.

He said to all his listeners that “your joy has rocked Panama, the Americas and the whole world,” adding as he had mentioned in his homily that today’s youth are not “the tomorrow, they are not the ‘meanwhile,’ but rather the now of God.”

“I ask you not to let what you have experienced during these days cool off,” Francis added, asking the young people to return to their parishes and communities, families and friends and to “transmit this experience, so that others can be rocked by that strength and excitement that you have.”

In wrapping up his visit to Panama, after celebrating Mass Francis also called for a “fair and peaceful” solution to the crisis in Venezuela that respects human rights and provides for the well-being of all that country’s citizens.

He issued that call after the Angelus prayer, speaking extemporaneously but once again refusing to say whether The Vatican will recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido, who last week proclaimed himself Venezuela’s interim president and received the backing of the US and a number of other regional leaders

Saying that he had felt especially close to Venezuela and its people during recent days on his visit to Panama, Francis “asked the Lord to seek and find a just and peaceful solution to overcome the crisis that respects human rights and exclusively seeks the good of all people.”

He asked people to pray for the “protection of Our Lady of Coromoto, the patron saint of Venezuela.”

To date, the Vatican has said only - in a brief statement - that it would continue to closely follow the evolving situation in Venezuela and to pray for the victims and all Venezuelans.

Meanwhile, during the WYD Mass on Sunday Catholic Church official Kevin Farrel announced that the next World Youth Day will be held in Portugal, although the date was not specified. Normally, WYD is held every three years

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was present at John Paul II field for the Mass along with the leaders of Costa Rica (Carlos Alvarado), Colombia (Ivan Duque), Guatemala (Jimmy Morales), El Salvador (Salvador Sanchez Ceren) and Honduras (Juan Orlando Hernandez).

Francis arrived last Wednesday in Panama to participate in WYD and has pursued an agenda in the Central American country that has included meetings with local authorities and regional bishops and other activities.