Pope Francis' visit to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day has come to a close with his last stop being at Copacabana beach where he addressed a crowd of over 3 million people. This crowd was larger than that which the Rolling Stones brought in for their 2006 concert at the very same beach. And some are saying Pope Francis has some serious "rock star appeal."
What was most memorable about his stop at Copacabana were the powerful remarks that he left the crowd with, which could apply to any millennial regardless of religious affiliation.
Pope Francis' homily for World Youth Day's closing mass was filled with advice for young people to become the voices that lead the Church and spread the word of God.
"The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you," Pope Francis said. Considering how in Brazil alone, has seen a drop in Catholics from 125 million in 2000 to 123 million in 2010, the pope knows exactly what to say to address the reality of the church's decline in participation. Given that following the happenings of his five day visit to Brazil on social media also became an acceptable way to gain indulgences, or time off Purgatory, it seems that the church also knows exactly what to do to better reel in millennials. After all, what would the future of the church look like without them besides a whole lot of sad, empty pews?
However, Pope Francis' words could be applied to any situation in which young people must be moved to action for the future of our nation and the world as a whole. The world needs passionate, creative individuals to help society progress in its many facets. Instead of being struck with apathy, a lack of confidence, and pessimism, millennials must find within them a drive to do better for ones' self and others. Such motivation will be what propels the world towards becoming one that is more just, more advanced, and more than just tolerable to live in.
"The young people in the street are the ones who want to be actors of change. Please don't let others be actors of change," the pope added in his address.
Pope Francis could not be more on point. Today's leaders will one day be gone and another generation will fill in their shoes. It is not only what millennials decide to do when they get to a more mature age that matters. Most importantly, it is what they do to prepare for the future that will determine the state of our world in the coming decades and once the religious aspect is extracted from the pope's speech, his message becomes one that is universal.