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Pope to young on Poland trip: Believe ‘in a new humanity’

Pope Francis followed by a security guard arrives to celebrate a Mass at the conclusion of the World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, on Sunday, July 31, 2016. The Mass was the final part of the World Youth Day, a global celebration of young Catholics, on the fifth day of the Pope’s visit to Poland. (Gregorio Borgia / Associated Press)
Pope Francis followed by a security guard arrives to celebrate a Mass at the conclusion of the World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, on Sunday, July 31, 2016. The Mass was the final part of the World Youth Day, a global celebration of young Catholics, on the fifth day of the Pope’s visit to Poland. (Gregorio Borgia / Associated Press)
By Frances D’Emilio Associated Press

KRAKOW, Poland – Pope Francis told young people who flocked by the hundreds of thousands to his words Sunday that they need to “believe in a new humanity” stronger than evil, and cautioned against concluding that one religion is more violent than others.

Organizers of the Catholic jamboree known as World Youth Day estimated 1.5 million youths attended his Mass near Krakow.

The jamboree, meant to infuse young Catholics with fresh passion for their religion, was the main reason Francis came to Poland on a five-day trip, which also took him to the former Nazi Auschwitz death camp, where he prayed in silence and reflected on what he called “so much cruelty,” and to a church in Krakow, where he prayed that God protect the world from the “devastating wave” of terrorism.

Extremist violence was on his mind when he set out last week, the day after extremists rushed into a church in the French countryside and murdered the elderly priest there, slitting his throat, as he was celebrating Mass.

Flying back to Rome Sunday night from Krakow, he was asked by reporters why he has never used the word “Islam” when denouncing terrorist attacks.

Francis said he thinks “it’s not right to identify Islam with violence.”

He added that every religion has its “little group of fundamentalists.” He said that if he speaks of violent Islam, he’d have to speak of violent Catholicism, since Catholics kill, too.

Referring to IS, also known as the Islamic State group, Francis said it “presents itself with its violent identity card, but it’s not Islam.”

The pope used his several encounters with the young pilgrims – from mega-gatherings to a private lunch with only a dozen people from five continents – to encourage a new generation to work for peace, reconciliation and justice.

God, Francis said in his final homily of the pilgrimage, “demands of us real courage, the courage to be more powerful than evil, by loving everyone, even our enemies.”

“People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centered or small-minded,” he said.

During Mass, Francis announced the next World Youth Day will take place in Panama in 2019. Later, the 79-year-old pope told rally volunteers he did not know if he would be at that one.

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