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Pope raises own mortality in rallying youth to lead church

Associated Press logo Associated Press 8/04/2017
Pope Francis gestures in at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome as he presides over a vigil prayer, Saturday, April 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) © The Associated Press Pope Francis gestures in at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome as he presides over a vigil prayer, Saturday, April 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME — Pope Francis is urging young people to lead the church's future even as he voices doubts about whether he'll be around much longer to see it.

The 80-year-old pope referred to his own mortality twice in the span of a few minutes Saturday during a service to rally young people to attend the Catholic Church's big youth festival, World Youth Day, to be held in Panama in 2019.

He said: "I don't know if it will be me, but the pope will be in Panama!"

And a few minutes earlier, he drew gasps from the crowd when he quipped: "At my age, we (old people) are about to pass away."

Sensing their reaction, Francis added: "Who guarantees life? No one. At your age, you have the future ahead of you."

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