The global economic crisis has harmed young people and could spawn an entire generation that has never had a job, Pope Francis said Monday.

The pope spoke with journalists aboard the plane carrying him to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day.

"This first trip is to meet with the young people, who I do not want to see isolated but amid the social fabric. When we isolate the young in society, we do an injustice to them because we take away their belongingness," the pope said.

"Young people belong to a family, a country, a culture and a faith, and we have to maintain that sense of belonging. They are the future of a people because they have the strength, the youth, and they move forward," Pope Francis said.

The global economic crisis "does not make things easy for the young people," the pope said, adding that he learned about "the percentage of youths without work" last week.

"We run the risk of having an acceleration of a generation that has never had work and from work comes the dignity of the person, which is the power to earn one's bread," Pope Francis said. EFE