Europe

Pope Francis says farewell to Poland with huge Mass

Pope arrives at the mass - 31 July Image copyright AP
Image caption The Pope urged followers to "believe in a new humanity"

Hundreds of thousands of people have been attending a huge Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on the last day of his five-day trip to Poland.

At the World Youth Day gathering, the pontiff urged young people to embrace hope and put prayer at the centre of their lives.

The event took on a carnival atmosphere with pilgrims dancing, singing and waving flags.

The visit marks the 1,050th anniversary of Poland's adoption of Christianity.

Some reports said as many as three million pilgrims, mostly young people, were at the mass, held in a vast field called the Campus Misericordiae near the southern city of Krakow.

Police declined to give an estimate of numbers.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption There was an atmosphere of festivity at the gathering
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Clergy protected themselves from the sun, although rain was also forecast
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Mass was attended by young people from all over the world
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some strained to get a better view
Image copyright AP
Image caption A huge crowd had already gathered for a prayer vigil on Saturday evening

Hundreds of thousands were seen arriving at the site on Saturday, many with tents, sleeping bags and umbrellas.

Pope Francis urged pilgrims to "believe in a new humanity" that rejected hatred and refused to use borders as barriers.

God "demands of us real courage, the courage to be more powerful than evil, by loving everyone, even our enemies", he said.

Using technological metaphors, he described negativity as a "virus infecting and blocking everything" and urged young people to put prayer and the gospel at the centre of their lives.

"Trust the memory of God: his memory is not a hard disk that saves and archives all our data, but a heart filled with tender compassion, one that finds joy in erasing in us every trace of evil," he said.

"May we too now try to imitate the faithful memory of God and treasure the good things we have received in these days."

The Pope has drawn large crowds throughout his visit.

But the highpoint is regarded as being Friday's trip to the Auschwitz death camp, where he offered a private prayer.

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