A day after hundreds of thousands of young people participated in the March for Our Lives, Pope Francis encouraged the youth to continue to speak out against injustice. “The temptation to silence young people has always existed,” the pontiff warned in his Palm Sunday address.
“There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. 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,” the Pope continued. “Dear young people, you have it in you to shout.” The Pope did not specifically mention March for Our Lives during the sermon.
Over 800,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C. as part of March for Our Lives, making it one of the most attended single-day protests in the capital’s history, USA Today reports. More than 800 sister rallies took place throughout the United States and internationally, including Rome, which encompasses Vatican City.
March for Our Lives was held as a response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people, as well as the countless instances of gun violence that preceded the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
In the aftermath of the shooting, the Parkland survivors – many of whom spoke at the March of Our Lives protest in Washington, D.C. – have banded together to demand that the government take action on the gun issue, much to the consternation of the NRA and conservative lawmakers.
“It is up to you not to keep quiet,” Pope Francis said to the youth during his address Sunday. “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?” According to Reuters, the young people attending the sermon in St. Peter’s Square responded by shouting, “Yes!”