VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is trying to energize Catholics, telling them to be active, help others, spread the faith, and that’s all good for cholesterol levels, too.
Francis himself looked full of pep Sunday, a day after the 80-year-pontiff returned from a hectic trip to Egypt.
In St. Peter’s Square, he did a whirl in his popemobile to greet some 70,000 members and supporters of Italian Catholic Action, a social-action group celebrating 150 years since its formation.
Of Italian origin, the Argentine-born pope told the crowd his father and grandmother had belonged to the group. Then he said: “Don’t get comfortable in your armchair; that makes you fat and is bad for the cholesterol.”
Instead, he urged them to take care of others, be merciful and keep “being a people of “disciples-missionaries.”
Pope Francis also has appealed to leaders of Venezuela’s government and society to avoid any more violence as he cited the mounting number of dead, injured and prisoners.
Francis told faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sunday that, united in sorrow with the families of victims, he was making a heartfelt appeal to “the government and all the components of the Venezuelan society so that every further form of violence is avoided, human rights are respected and negotiated solutions are sought.”
He said Venezuelans were worn out from the grave “humanitarian, social, political and economic crises” afflicting the country.
Francis prayed for “peace, reconciliation and democracy” for that “beloved” nation.
Venezuelans are demanding elections and the release of political prisoners. Nearly daily clashes have claimed at least 28 lives and hundreds injured.