VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church is not a “club” for the elderly; it needs the participation of young people to keep it alive and ensure it does not “grow old,” Pope Francis said.

In a video message released July 27 to present his prayer intention for the month of August, “For World Youth Day,” the pope responded to questions from young people around the world in the buildup to WYD 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal, which was scheduled to begin Aug. 1.

One young woman told Pope Francis that she only sees older people at her church, and asked him if the church has become something only for older people.

“The church is not a club for the elderly, nor is it a youth club,” the pope responded. “If it becomes something for old people it is going to die.”

Citing St. John Paul II, the pope said that “if you live with young people, you will also become young, and the church needs young people to not grow old.”

Another young woman asked the pope about the meaning of the theme for this year’s World Youth Day taken from St. Luke’s Gospel: “Mary arose and went with haste.”

“When Mary