Pope warns global crisis risks creating lost generation

ON BOARD PAPAL PLANE - Pope Francis on Monday warned that the global crisis risked creating a lost generation of jobless youth and slammed a cultural tendency to socially reject the elderly.

"The global crisis has brought nothing good to young people. I saw the data on youth unemployed last week. We run the risk of having a generation without work," Francis told journalists aboard the papal plane on his way to Brazil.

The 76-year-old said the aim of his trip was in part "to encourage young people to integrate into society" and convince society not to abandon them.

"When we isolate young people we do them an injustice. Young people belong to a family, a culture, a faith. We must not isolate them," he said at the start of his first foreign journey abroad since becoming pontiff.

Francis said it was not just the young jobless who were being treated as social outcasts, but also the elderly.

"We are used to this culture of rejection with old people, we do it often, despite the life wisdom they give us. They are left on one side as if they have nothing to offer. But today the culture of rejection is being extended to young unemployed people as well," he said.

The young "are the future, but they are not alone. Older people are also the future. The elderly have wisdom drawn from life, from history, from their country, their family, and we need that," he added.

Pope Francis headed for Brazil on Monday to find a country facing a shrinking Catholic flock and anger over government waste.

People from across the globe have been gathering to greet the first pope from Latin America and celebrate World Youth Day with him in the world's most populous Catholic country.