Pope Francis called in his first Palm Sunday Mass for an end to wars, economic conflicts that harm the weakest people in society, hunger for money and power, corruption and crimes against human life and creation, telling the faithful that Christ can help them overcome the evil in men and the world.

"Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst; it is born from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life's journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! And in this moment the enemy, the devil, comes, often disguised as an angel, and slyly speaks his word to us. Do not listen to him! Let us follow Jesus!" the pope said in his homily.

The 76-year-old pope delivered his homily before several thousand of the faithful who gathered in St. Peter's Square on Palm Sunday, which marks the start of Holy Week.

"Let us follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world. Please do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let hope be stolen! The hope that Jesus gives us," the pontiff said.

At the end of Mass, the pope invited the young people of the world to journey to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day.

"To Mary I entrust especially you, dear young people, and your path towards Rio de Janeiro: This July, Rio! Prepare your hearts spiritually. May all of you have a good journey!" the pontiff said.

Pope Francis was elected the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church on March 13. EFE