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No room for benchwarmers, make history, pope tells youths at vigil


  • Pope Francis walks with World Youth Day pilgrims as he arrives for a July 30 prayer vigil at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pope Francis leads the benediction at a July 30 World Youth Day prayer vigil at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pope Francis walks with pilgrims through the Door of Mercy as he arrives for a prayer vigil as part of World Youth Day at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland, July 30. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • World Youth Day pilgrims wait for Pope Francis to arrive for a prayer vigil July 30 at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
  • A World Youth Day pilgrim reads while waiting for Pope Francis to arrive for a prayer vigil July 30 at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
  • Pope Francis gives a thumbs up as he arrives with World Youth Day pilgrims to a July 30 prayer vigil at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • World Youth Day pilgrims hold candles during eucharistic adoration with Pope Francis at the July 30 prayer vigil at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard)

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KRAKOW, Poland (CNS) -- Pope Francis told young people they are not called to be couch potatoes, living boring lives, but should leave their mark in history and not let others determine their future.

Like a soccer match, life "only takes players on the first string and has no room for benchwarmers," the pope young people at the World Youth Day prayer vigil July 30. "Today's world demands that you be a protagonist of history, because life is always beautiful when we choose to live it fully, when we choose to leave a mark."

Organizers said up to 1.6 million youths from around the world -- many of whom walked more than four miles to the Field of Mercy -- attended the prayer vigil with the pope.

Arriving in his popemobile, Pope Francis waved at the throngs of young people who stretched out their hands. Stopping at a wooden Door of Mercy inscribed with the words "Jesus, I trust in you" in five languages, he was greeted by several young men and women. Hand-in-hand with the pope, they entered through the door.

The pope then surprised the youths by inviting them aboard the popemobile. Visibly emotional and wide-eyed, the youths boarded the vehicle and joined Pope Francis, waving at the crowd.

After taking his place on the stage, young people from Poland, Syria and Paraguay gave their experiences of finding hope in the midst of disbelief, war and addiction.

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