INQUIRER.NET

Pope Francis tells teens ‘happiness not an app’

In this Aug. 28, 2013 file photo provided Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis has his picture taken inside St. Peter’s Basilica with youths from the Italian Diocese of Piacenza and Bobbio who came to Rome for a pilgrimage, at the Vatican. The pontiff had a private audience with 500 youths from the diocese. AP

VATICAN CITY — Happiness is not an app you can download on your mobile phone, Pope Francis told thousands of teenagers on Sunday at a mass to mark a weekend dedicated to youth.

“Freedom is not always about doing what you want. In fact it is the gift of being able to choose the right way,” he said in a homily punctuated by regular bursts of applause from the crowd on a packed St Peter’s Square.

“Your happiness has no price. It cannot be bought and sold: it is not an application you download on a mobile phone. Even the latest version cannot help you to grow and become free in love.”

An estimated 70,000 teenagers were in Rome for a weekend of events to celebrate Francis’s Jubilee year dedicated to the theme of mercy.

In a surprise move on Saturday, the 79-year-old pontiff heard confessions from 16 of them and a video message from him was broadcast at a rock and rap concert in the Stadio Olimpico.

One of the teenagers chosen to confess to the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics said she had been trembling as she approached the chair on which the pope was sitting in St. Peter’s Square.

“But as soon as I sat down I had the feeling of being next to a normal person rather than the pope. Francis is really one of us,” Anna Taibi, 15, told La Repubblica newspaper.

The Sicilian teenager said she had been touched by Francis’s tenderness as he listened to her confession.

“I expected him to give me a penance … instead he absolved me and let me go.”

The importance of mobile phones to contemporary teenagers was also reflected in Francis’s message to the concert.

Clutching an iPhone, he told his audience that living without Jesus was like not having any signal. “Always be sure to go where there is a network: family, parish, school,” he said.

RELATED STORIES

Pope Francis reaches 1.6M followers on Instagram in 4 days

Pope Francis joins Instagram as ‘Franciscus’

Outbrain