Attendees of the World Youth Day lunch were surprised at the pope’s informality.
Pope Francis tried to be cool to the new generation of Catholics and was spectacularly successful. He said the first “influencer” in the world was the Virgin Mary even though she had no access to the Internet. According to the pope, when Mary said “yes,” referring to the time when she consented to be Jesus Christ’s virgin mother, she became the world’s first influencer, “the ‘influencer’ of God.” The tweet was targeted towards young Catholics, ahead of the closing moments of World Youth Day.
With her “yes”, Mary became the most influential woman in history. Without social networks, she became the first “influencer”: the “influencer” of God. #Panama2019
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) January 27, 2019
Francis had invited and urged a number of Panama City resident Catholics to follow Virgin Mary’s footsteps. He said that Mary, a resident of Nazareth, became history’s biggest influencer without ever wanting or seeking the position. The attending youth Catholics came to the venue to hear the pontiff’s World Youth Day speech. About 600,000 attendees were present during the principal event that took place at the festival located to the east side of Panama City. A number of attendees spent the previous night on sleeping mats or tents to get in time for the early morning Mass which will end this religious festival.
— WYD / PAK Filipino (@WYD_PH) January 27, 2019
Pope Francis worked the crowds after riding through them standing in his popemobile. The crowds cheered as his vehicle rolled slowly past. The pontiff assured the audience that he understood their fears and anxieties concerning a future where education is not always available and gainful employment is hard to come by.
The pope’s day ended with Francis enjoying a lunch with 10 young pilgrims. Each pilgrim represented one of the world’s 10 continents. The attendees were pleasantly surprised at the informality exhibited by the pope. He also showed genuine interest towards their questions. Among them was Brenda Noriega, a San Bernardino, California youth minister originally from Mexico. She and the pope discussed the many sexual abuse scandals. As per Noriega, the pope described the abuse as a “horrible crime”. He also assured her that the Catholic Church is completely committed to help victims. He had also informed her that American bishops went on a retreat with Francis’ own preacher in earlier this month. The Vatican has scheduled an abuse prevention summit next month.
Francis encouraged the attending young Catholics to take advantage of every day in their lives and follow their dreams. He said that they are not future, but now of God.