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Pope Francis Urges Church To Avoid 'Pessimism'

Pope Francis leads a mass at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican on March 14.
Pope Francis has urged the Roman Catholic Church not to give in to "pessimism" and to find new ways of spreading the faith to counter the declining numbers of worshippers.

The 76-year-old Argentinian pontiff spoke to cardinals on March 15, his third day in office. He urged them "to bring evangelization to the ends of the Earth."

Francis said he and they were "elderly," but old age brought wisdom, adding, "Let us give this wisdom to young people like good wine that gets better over the years."

Francis lauded his predecessor Benedict XVI's resignation as a "courageous and humble act."

The new pope wore white papal vestments but also plain black shoes, not the red shoes favored by his German predecessor, for the address at the Vatican.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP

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