Pope Francis has discussed prostitution, sport and the search for God in a wide-ranging encounter with young Catholics.

Three hundred 16-to-29-year-olds attended the opening of a week-long meeting, which will help the Church to prepare for October’s synod of bishops on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”.

Most of the young people gathered with the Pope at the Legionaries of Christ’s Maria Mater Ecclesia College in Rome were chosen as delegates by their national bishops’ conferences.

Others represented a variety of Catholic movements or ministries, including religious life. The Vatican also invited delegates from other Christian churches, other religions, including Islam, and young people who describe themselves as non-believers.

Spending the morning with the young people, Pope Francis spoke on a variety of topics, at one point lamenting the professionalisation of sport.

He also heard directly from 10 of them, who represented countries around the world. Some were concerned about the negative impact of social media, while others spoke of how technology helps connect young people and rally them in support of good causes.

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