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Pope to tackle dwindling vocations to priesthood at Panama meeting

PANAMA CITY: Pope Francis will meet young pupil priests on Saturday at the fourth day of his discuss with to Panama for World Youth Day celebrations, an afternoon after the clergy sex abuse scandal haunting his papacy returned to the highlight.

The 82-year-old Argentine pontiff will begin the penultimate day of his discuss with to Panama by means of celebrating mass in the centuries-old colonial Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria los angeles Antigua, Panama's patron saint.

He will then discuss with the country's main seminary of San Jose, and cope with the ever present drawback of dwindling recruitment to the priesthood.

Around the globe, there have been 414,969 Catholic priests on the end of 2016, greater than 800 not up to in 2014, in line with the Vatican. There were nearly 700 much less other people joining the priesthood over the similar length.

Francis himself stated at a basic audience in August that the scandals of abuse and cover-up by means of Church leaders has caused a decline in vocations to the priesthood in Ireland.

The pope and the Archbishop of Panama, Cardinal Jose Domingo Ulloa, will host a lunch on the seminary for 10 young other people of various nationalities attending the WYD, a convention on the mass gatherings, held each three years.

Francis will preside over an evening vigil with an expected crowd of some 200,000 pilgrims on the three-kilometer long Metro Park at the outskirts of Panama.

Late Friday, in a swipe at US President Donald Trump's plans to construct a border wall towards Central American migrants, the pope advised hundreds of 1000's of young pilgrims that it used to be "senseless" to sentence each immigrant "as a threat to society."

The Argentine pontiff used to be talking on the end of a solemn ceremony commemorating Christ's Crucifixion, which drew the most important crowd of pilgrims of his five-day discuss with.

The Vatican faced questions Friday over why the pope, who addressed hundreds of Central American bishops the day earlier than, had now not spoken out towards the scourge of clergy sex abuse afflicting the Church.

His spokesman Alessandro Gisotti stated that it used to be by no means a ways from Francis' mind for the reason that Church used to be beneath "incredible pressure."

But it used to be "not necessary" the pope will have to elevate the issue at each accumulating of bishops or young other people, he stated.

Gisotti stated subsequent month's meeting of leading bishops in Rome can be a singular likelihood to provide them with "concrete measures" to take on the "terrible plague."

In his night homily, Francis returned to his theme of protecting migrants all through this discuss with to Central America, the hub for migrant caravans heading north thru Mexico to the USA border.

The Church sought after to foster a culture "that welcomes, protects, promotes and integrates, that does not stigmatize, much less indulge in a senseless and irresponsible condemnation of every immigrant as a threat to society."

In the group used to be 23-year-old Honduran pupil Wiston Medina. "Many of my friends have lost their jobs and gone to the United States. Everyone in Honduras has family in the US, they left looking for a better future," he advised AFP.

Also Friday, Francis visited a formative years penal complex outdoor the capital.

"Where people's lives are concerned, it seems easier to post signs and labels," stigmatizing "not only people's past but also their present and future," he advised the center's young inmates, a lot of whom are serving time for serious crimes.

He advised them they were not defined by means of the labels society had given them, as offenders.

"Keep fighting, all of you, to seek and find the paths of integration and transformation."

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