Pope Francis has told a crowd of 50,000 young German altar servers gathered in St Peter’s Square not to waste their lives on 'futile' distractions such as chatting on the internet or on smartphones, reports The Tablet.
Asked by one of the young people how to make time for assisting at Mass, Pope Francis said that excessive use of the internet and social media distracted them from what was really important.
'Maybe many young people waste too many hours on futile things, chatting on the internet or with smart phones, watching TV soap operas, and [using] the products of technological progress, which should simplify and improve the quality of life, but which distract one's attention away from what is really important,' he told the crowd on Tuesday.
Pope Francis surprised the crowd by greeting them in German, which is not a language he uses frequently.
Acknowledging that young people are often torn between many different commitments including school and Church, His Holiness advised: 'You need to organise your lives a little, plan things in a balanced way.'
The Catholic News Service reports that Pope Francis also urged young Catholics to make careful use of their freedom, treasure their dignity as sons and daughters of God and make time to pray each day.
'If you follow Jesus and his Gospel, your freedom will blossom like a plant in bloom and will bring good and abundant fruit,' the Pope said Tuesday. 'You will find authentic joy, because he wants us to be men and women who are happy and fulfilled.'
The pilgrimage to Rome, sponsored by the German Bishops' Conference, included tens of thousands of Germans ages 13 to 27, but also altar servers from Austria, Switzerland, Lithuania and northern Italy. The five-day pilgrimage included Masses and talks focusing on the freedom God gives to people and the challenge of using it well.