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The Children

1st Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Family
General Audience, Wednesday 11 February 2015 - in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brother and Sisters, Good morning,
After reflecting on the figures of the mother and father, in this catechesis on the family I would like to talk about the child, or even better, about children. I shall use a beautiful image from Isaiah. The Prophet writes: “they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be carried in the arms. Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall thrill and rejoice” (60:4-5). It is a splendid image, an image of happiness which is fulfilled in the reunion of parents and children, who journey together toward a future of freedom and peace, after a long period of deprivation and separation, when the Hebrew people were far from their homeland.

In essence, there is a close link between the hope of a people and the harmony among generations. We must consider this carefully. There is a close link between the hope of a people and the harmony among generations. The joy of children causes the parents’ hearts to beat and reopens the future. Children are the joy of the family and of society. They are not a question of reproductive biology, nor one of the many ways to fulfil oneself, much less a possession of their parents.... No. Children are a gift, they are a gift: understood? Children are a gift. Each one is unique and irreplaceable; and at the same time unmistakably linked to his/her roots. In fact, according to God’s plan, being son and daughter means to carry within oneself the memory and hope of a love which was fulfilled in the very kindling of the life of another, original and new, human being. And for parents each child is original, different, diverse. Allow me to share a family memory. I remember what my mother said about us — there were five of us: — “I have five children”. When they asked her: “Which one is your favourite”, she answered: “I have five children, like five fingers. [He displays his fingers] Should they strike this one, it hurts me; should they strike that one, it hurts me. All five hurt me. All are my children and all are different like the fingers of a hand”. And this is how a family is! The children are all different, but all children.

A child is loved because he is one’s child: not because he is beautiful, or because he is like this or like that; no, because he is a child! Not because he thinks as I do, or embodies my dreams. A child is a child: a life generated by us but intended for him, for his good, for the good of the family, of society, of mankind as a whole.

From this also derives the depth of the human experience of being son or daughter, which allows us to discover the most gratuitous dimension of love, which never ceases to astonish us. It is the beauty of being loved first: children are loved before they arrive. So often I find mothers in the square who are expecting a baby and ask me for a blessing ... these babies are loved before coming into the world. And this is free, this is love; they are loved before being born, like the love of God who always loves us first. They are loved before having done anything to deserve it, before knowing how to talk or think, even before coming into the world! Being children is the basic condition for knowing the love of God, which is the ultimate source of this authentic miracle. In the soul of every child, inasmuch as it is vulnerable, God places the seal of this love, which is at the basis of his/her personal dignity, a dignity which nothing and no one can ever destroy.

Today it seems more difficult for children to imagine their future. Fathers — I touched on this in previous catecheses — have perhaps taken a step backward and children have become more uncertain in taking their steps forward. We can learn the good relationship between generations from our Heavenly Father, who leaves each of us free but never leaves us on our own. And if we err, He continues to follow us with patience, without abating his love for us. Our Heavenly Father does not take steps back in his love for us, ever! He always goes forward and if He cannot go forward He waits for us, but He never goes backward; He wants his children to be brave and take their steps forward.

The children, for their part, must not be afraid of the task of building a new world: it is right for them to want to improve on what they have received! But this must be done without arrogance, without presumption. One must know how to recognize a child’s virtue, and parents always deserve honour.

The fourth Commandment asks children — we are all children! — to honour our father and mother (cf. Ex 20:12). This Commandment comes immediately after those regarding God Himself. Indeed, it contains something sacred, something divine, something which lies at the root of every other type of respect among men. And to the biblical formulation of the fourth Commandment is added: “that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you”. The virtuous bond between generations is the guarantee of the future, and is the guarantee of a truly human history. A society with children who do not honour parents is a society without honour; when one does not honour one’s parents one loses one’s own honour! It is a society destined to be filled with arid and avid young people. However, even a society with a paucity of generations, which does not love being surrounded by children, which considers them above all a worry, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society. Let us consider the many societies we know here in Europe: they are depressed societies, because they do not want children, they are not having children, the birth rate does not reach one percent. Why? Let each of us consider and respond. If a family with many children is looked upon as a weight, something is wrong! The child’s generation must be responsible, as the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI also teaches, but having many children cannot automatically be an irresponsible choice. Not to have children is a selfish choice. Life is rejuvenated and acquires energy by multiplying: it is enriched, not impoverished! Children learn to assume responsibility for their family. They mature in sharing its hardship. They grow in the appreciation of its gifts. The happy experience of brotherhood inspires respect and care for parents, to whom our recognition is due. So many of you present here have children and we are all children. Let us do something, let us observe a moment of silence. Each of us think in our heart about our children — if we have any; — think in silence. And let us all think about our parents and thank God for the gift of life. In silence, those who have children think of them, and everyone think of our parents. (Silence). May the Lord bless our parents and bless your children. May Jesus, the eternal Son, who in the fullness of time became a child, help us find the path of a new radiation of this so great and so simple human experience of being children. In the multiplication of generations there is a mystery of enrichment of the life of all, which comes from God Himself. We must rediscover it, challenging prejudice; and live it, in the faith, in perfect happiness. And I say to you: how beautiful it is when I pass in your midst and I see the dads and moms lift up their children to be blessed; this is an almost divine gesture. Thank you for doing it!"

"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les prêtres de la société Jean-Marie Vianney, avec Monseigneur Guy-Marie Bagnard, et le Séminaire de Nantes. Je salue également tous les jeunes de France venus nombreux, en particulier du Diocèse de Sens accompagnés de Monseigneur Patenôtre. En communion avec tous les pèlerins de Lourdes, je prie la Vierge Marie pour toutes vos familles ; qu’elles sachent toujours accueillir la vie avec générosité et faire la joyeuse expérience de la fraternité. Que Dieu vous bénisse.

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke joy and peace in the Lord Jesus. God bless you all!

Mit Freude heiße ich die Gläubigen deutscher Sprache willkommen, die zu dieser Audienz gekommen sind, besonders die Pilger der Diözese Eisenstadt mit Bischof Zsifkovics. Danke den Fahnenschwingern für den farbenfrohen Gruß. Ich schließe eure Lieben, besonders die Kranken in mein Gebet ein. Betet auch für mich! Gott segne euch.

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española, en especial a los fieles de Mallorca, acompañados de su Obispo, Mons. Javier Salinas Viñals, así como a los grupos provenientes de España, Colombia, Argentina, México y otros países latinoamericanos. Que la Inmaculada Virgen María, Nuestra Señora de Lourdes, nos conceda a todos sus hijos consuelo y fortaleza para crecer en el amor y caminar juntos hasta la meta del cielo. Muchas gracias.

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, sede bem-vindos! O mundo de hoje precisa que os cristãos testemunhem a sua confiança em Deus, através de uma generosa e responsável abertura à vida. Faço votos de que vossas comunidades sejam lugares onde as famílias se sintam apoiadas na sua missão de colaborarem no projeto divino para a criação. Que Deus vos abençoe!

أتوَجَّهُ بِتحيّةٍ قلْبيّةٍ لِلحُجّاجِ النّاطِقين بِاللّغةِ العربيّةِ، وخاصّةً القادِمين مِن الأردن ومِن الأراضي المقدِسةِ ومِن الشّرق الأوسط. الأبناء هُم عطيّةٌ تستحِقُ التكريمَ والعِنايَةَ والحِمايّةَ مِن قبل الوالِدين. وعلى الأبناءِ بدورِهِم إكرامُ الوالِدين ورِعايَتُهُم واحْتِرامُهُم. فليْس أجملَ مِن أسرَةٍ تجتمِعُ حوْلَ المحبّةِ! ليُبارِكْ الرّبُّ جميعَ الأبناءِ الصّالِحِينِ ويَهدي المُقصّرِين، ويَحرِسْكُم جميعًا مِن الشِّرِيرِ!

Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów, a szczególnie dziewczęta ze Specjalnego Ośrodka Wychowawczego Zgromadzenia Sióstr św. Józefa w Częstochowie, oraz Chór Akademii Muzycznej z Katowic, obecny tu z okazji 90-lecia powołania do istnienia diecezji. Moi drodzy, wszyscy jesteśmy dziećmi Bożymi, ale także dziećmi naszych rodziców. Dziękujmy Panu i rodzicom za dar życia i módlmy się, aby wszystkie matki i wszyscy ojcowie potrafili w pełni zaangażować się w wychowanie swoich dzieci, aby rosły „w mądrości, w latach i łasce u Boga i u ludzi”, oraz by dzieci okazywały im zawsze szacunek i miłość. Niech Bóg wam błogosławi! Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!


Seguo con preoccupazione le notizie giunte da Lampedusa, dove si contano altri morti tra gli immigrati a causa del freddo lungo la traversata del Mediterraneo. Desidero assicurare la mia preghiera per le vittime e incoraggiare nuovamente alla solidarietà, affinché a nessuno manchi il necessario soccorso.

Invito infine a pregare per il Concistoro che avrà luogo nei prossimi giorni. Lo Spirito Santo assista i lavori del Collegio Cardinalizio e illumini i nuovi Cardinali e il loro servizio alla Chiesa.

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Porgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. Saluto i partecipanti al convegno promosso dall’Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi e le scolaresche, specialmente i Licei di Ronciglione e Bassano Romano, l’Istituto Cesare Arici di Brescia e la Scuola Martiri d’Ungheria di Scafati. Saluto i membri delle Associazioni Genitori Oncologia Pediatrica; le piccole degenti dell’Istituto delle Suore di San Giuseppe e i numerosi gruppi dell’Unitalsi. Incoraggio tutti a crescere nell’amore per il Signore, nella sapienza del cuore e nel servizio generoso al prossimo sofferente nel corpo e nello spirito.

Rivolgo un pensiero speciale ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Oggi ricorre la memoria della Beata Vergine Maria di Lourdes e si celebra la Giornata Mondiale dell’ammalato. Cari giovani, disponetevi ad essere “occhi per il cieco e piedi per lo storpio”; cari ammalati, sentitevi sempre sostenuti dalla preghiera della Chiesa; e voi, cari sposi novelli, amate la vita che è sempre sacra, anche quando è segnata dalla fragilità e dalla malattia. Grazie."

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

2nd Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Family
General Audience, Wednesday 18 March 2015 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
After reviewing the various members of the family — mother, father, children, siblings, grandparents —, I would like to conclude this first group of catecheses on the family by speaking about children. I will do so in two phases: today I will focus on the great gift that children are for humanity — it is true they are a great gift for humanity, but also really excluded because they are not even allowed to be born — and the next time I shall focus on several wounds that unfortunately harm childhood. Who come to mind are the many children I met during my recent journey to Asia: full of life, of enthusiasm, and, on the other hand, I see that in the world, many of them live in unworthy conditions.... In fact, from the way children are treated society can be judged, not only morally but also sociologically, whether it is a liberal society or a society enslaved by international interests.

First of all children remind us that we all, in the first years of life, were completely dependent upon the care and benevolence of others. The Son of God was not spared this stage. It is the mystery that we contemplate every year at Christmas. The Nativity Scene is the icon which communicates this reality in the simplest and most direct way. It is curious: God has no difficulty in making Himself understood by children, and children have no difficulty in understanding God. It is not by chance that in the Gospel there are several very beautiful and powerful words of Jesus regarding the “little ones”. This term, “babes”, refers to all the people who depend on the help of others, and to children in particular. For example, Jesus says: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to babes” (Mt 11:25). And again: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones: for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 18:10).

Thus, children are in and of themselves a treasure for humanity and also for the Church, for they constantly evoke that necessary condition for entering the Kingdom of God: that of not considering ourselves self-sufficient, but in need of help, of love, of forgiveness. We all are in need of help, of love and of forgiveness! Children remind us of another beautiful thing: they remind us that we are always sons and daughters. Even if one becomes an adult, or an elderly person, even if one becomes a parent, if one occupies a position of responsibility, underneath all of this is still the identity of a child. We are all sons and daughters. And this always brings us back to the fact that we did not give ourselves life but that we received it. The great gift of life is the first gift that we received. Sometimes in life we risk forgetting about this, as if we were the masters of our existence, and instead we are fundamentally dependent. In reality, it is a motive of great joy to feel at every stage of life, in every situation, in every social condition, that we are and we remain sons and daughters. This is the main message that children give us, by their very presence: simply by their presence they remind us that each and every one of us is a son or daughter.

But there are so many gifts, so many riches that children bring to humanity. I shall mention only a few.

They bring their way of seeing reality, with a trusting and pure gaze. A child has spontaneous trust in his father and mother; he has spontaneous trust in God, in Jesus, in Our Lady. At the same time, his interior gaze is pure, not yet tainted by malice, by duplicity, by the “incrustations” of life which harden the heart. We know that children are also marked by original sin, that they are selfish, but they preserve purity, and interior simplicity. But children are not diplomats: they say what they feel, say what they see, directly. And so often they put their parents in difficulty, saying in front of other people: “I don’t like this because it is ugly”. But children say what they see, they are not two-faced, they have not yet learned that science of duplicity that we adults have unfortunately learned.

Furthermore, children — in their interior simplicity — bring with them the capacity to receive and give tenderness. Tenderness is having a heart “of flesh” and not “of stone”, as the Bible says (cf. Ezek 36:26). Tenderness is also poetry: it is “feeling” things and events, not treating them as mere objects, only to use them, because they are useful....

Children have the capacity to smile and to cry. Some, when I pick them up to embrace them, smile; others see me dressed in white and think I am a doctor and that I am going to vaccinate them, and they cry... spontaneously! Children are like this: they smile and cry, two things which are often “stifled” in grown-ups, we are no longer capable.... So often our smile becomes a cardboard smile, fixed, a smile that is not natural, even an artificial smile, like a clown. Children smile spontaneously and cry spontaneously. It always depends on the heart, and often our heart is blocked and loses this capacity to smile, to cry. So children can teach us how to smile and cry again. But we must ask ourselves: do I smile spontaneously, frankly, with love or is my smile artificial? Do I still cry or have I lost the capacity to cry? These are two very human questions that children teach us.

For all these reasons Jesus invited his disciples to “become like children”, because “the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like them” (cf. Mt 18:3; Mk 10:14).

Dear brothers and sisters, children bring life, cheerfulness, hope, also troubles. But such is life. Certainly, they also bring worries and sometimes many problems; but better a society with these worries and these problems, than a sad, grey society because it is without children! When we see that the birth rate of a society is barely one percent, we can say that this society is sad, it is grey because it has no children."

"J’accueille avec plaisir les pèlerins francophones, en particulier les jeunes venus nombreux, et le groupe du Secours catholique de Marseille.
Le temps du Carême est un temps favorable pour « devenir comme des enfants », parce que « le royaume de Dieu est à ceux qui leur ressemblent ». Que Dieu vous y aide et vous bénisse !

[Sono lieto di accogliere i pellegrini di lingua francese, in particolare i numerosi giovani e il gruppo del Soccorso cattolico di Marsiglia.
La Quaresima è un tempo favorevole per «diventare come bambini», perché «il regno di Dio è per coloro che assomigliano a loro». Che Dio vi aiuti in questo e vi benedica.]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from Great Britain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Philippines, Canada and the United States of America.  Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord Jesus.  God bless you all!

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Gran Bretagna, Danimarca, Norvegia, Svezia, Filippine, Canada e Stati Uniti d’America.  Su tutti voi e sulle vostre famiglie, invoco la gioia e la pace nel Signore Gesù.  Dio vi benedica!]

Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger deutscher Sprache und die verschiedenen Schulgruppen, besonders an die Christian-Hülsmeyer-Schule aus Barnstorf. Ich grüße auch die lieben Pilger aus Boppard. Ich wünsche euch einen guten Aufenthalt in Rom, der Stadt, wo viele Heilige gelebt haben. Die Heiligen sind Glaubensvorbilder, die nachzuahmen sind. Ich wünsche euch alles Gute. Gott segne euch.

[Rivolgo un cordiale saluto ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca e ai diversi gruppi scolastici, in particolare la Christian-Hülsmeyer-Schule di Barnstorf. Saluto anche i cari pellegrini di Boppard. Vi auguro una buona permanenza a Roma, la città dove hanno vissuto molti santi. I santi sono modelli di fede da imitare! Vi auguro ogni bene. Dio vi benedica.]

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los venidos de España, México, Perú, Argentina, Uruguay. Hermanos y hermanas, los niños dan vida, alegría, esperanza. Dan también preocupaciones y a veces dan problemas, pero es mejor así que una sociedad triste y gris porque se ha quedado sin niños, o no quieren a los niños. Pidamos que Jesús los bendiga y la Virgen los cuide. Muchas gracias.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua spagnola, in particolare quelli provenienti da Spagna, Messico, Perú, Argentina, Uruguay. Fratelli e sorelle, i figli danno vita, allegria, speranza. Danno anche preoccupazioni e, a volte danno problemi, ma è meglio così che una società triste e grigia, perché è rimasta senza figli, o non vuole figli. Pregate che Gesù li benedica e la Vergine li guidi. Grazie mille.]

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, sede bem-vindos! A todos vos saúdo, com menção particular dos grupos paroquiais de Santa Rita e de São Vicente, desejando que possais viver e crescer na amizade com Deus Pai, deixando que o seu amor sempre vos regenere como filhos e vos reconcilie com Ele e com os irmãos. Desça, sobre vós e vossas famílias, a abundância das suas bênçãos.

[Carissimi pellegrini di lingua portoghese, benvenuti! Nel salutarvi tutti, in particolare i gruppi parrocchiali di Santa Rita e di São Vicente, vi auguro di vivere e crescere nell’amicizia con Dio Padre, lasciando che il suo amore sempre vi rigeneri come figli e vi riconcili con Lui e con i fratelli. Scenda su di voi e sulle vostre famiglie l’abbondanza delle sue benedizioni.]

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ من الشّرق الأوسط. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، الأطفال هم غنى للبشريّة والكنيسة، لنتعلّم منهم الحنان والثقة العفويّة بالله. ليبارككُم الرب!

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a quelli provenienti dal Medio Oriente! Cari fratelli e sorelle, i bambini sono una ricchezza per l’umanità e per la chiesa, impariamo da loro la tenerezza e la spontanea fiducia in Dio! Il Signore vi benedica!]

Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Drodzy bracia i siostry, zastanawiając się nad rolą dzieci w społeczeństwie, uświadamiamy sobie, że dzieci przynoszą ze sobą życie, radość, nadzieję. Z pewnością przynoszą również troski a czasami problemy. Ale lepsze jest społeczeństwo z tymi troskami i problemami, niż społeczeństwo smutne i szare bez dzieci! Módlmy się, aby każde dziecko było przyjmowane z miłością i z wdzięcznością wobec Boga dawcy życia. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini polacchi. Cari fratelli e sorelle, riflettendo sul ruolo dei bambini nella società, ci rendiamo conto che i bambini portano vita, allegria e speranza. Certamente portano anche preoccupazioni e a volte problemi; ma è meglio una società con queste preoccupazioni e questi problemi, che una società triste e grigia perché è rimasta senza bambini! Preghiamo perché ogni bambino sia accolto con amore e con gratitudine verso Dio datore della vita. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!]


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Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua italiana. Sono lieto di accogliere le Suore Passioniste di San Paolo della Croce, nel secondo centenario della Fondazione, la delegazione della fiaccola benedettina “pro pace et Europa una”, con l’Arcivescovo di Spoleto-Norcia, Mons. Renato Boccardo e i fedeli di Vercelli accompagnati dall’Arcivescovo Mons. Marco Arnolfo: vi invito ad essere convinti diffusori della misericordia di Dio, supremo garante della giustizia e della pace. Saluto i membri della Polizia di Stato delle province di Ascoli Piceno, Fermo e Macerata; i medici dell’Associazione “Sorridi Konou Africa” e gli studenti, in particolare quelli dell’Istituto Comprensivo Ciampoli-Spaventa di Atessa. A tutti auguro che la visita alla Città Eterna diventi un’occasione di riscoperta della fede e di crescita nella carità.

Un pensiero speciale rivolgo ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Domani celebreremo la Solennità di San Giuseppe, Patrono della Chiesa Universale. Cari giovani, guardate a lui come esempio di vita umile e discreta; cari ammalati, portate la croce con l’atteggiamento del silenzio e dell’orazione del padre putativo di Gesù; e voi, cari sposi novelli, costruite la vostra famiglia sullo stesso amore che legò Giuseppe alla Vergine Maria."

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

3rd Catechesis by Pope Francis on Children in the Family
General Audience, Wednesday 8 April 2015 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
In this series of Catecheses on the family, today we are completing our reflection on children, who are the most beautiful gift and blessing that the Creator has given to man and woman. We have already spoken about the great gift that children are. Today sadly we must speak about the “passions” which many of them endure.

From the first moments of their lives, many children are rejected, abandoned, and robbed of their childhood and future. There are those who dare to say, as if to justify themselves, that it was a mistake to bring these children into the world. This is shameful! Let’s not unload our faults onto the children, please! Children are never a “mistake”. Their hunger is not a mistake, nor is their poverty, their vulnerability, their abandonment — so many children abandoned on the streets — and neither is their ignorance or their helplessness... so many children don’t even know what a school is. If anything, these should be reasons to love them all the more, with greater generosity. How can we make such solemn declarations on human rights and the rights of children, if we then punish children for the errors of adults?

Those who have the task of governing, of educating, but I would say all adults, we are responsible for children and for doing what we can to change this situation. I am referring to “the passion” of children. Every child who is marginalized, abandoned, who lives on the street begging with every kind of trick, without schooling, without medical care, is a cry that rises up to God and denounces the system that we adults have set in place. And unfortunately these children are prey to criminals who exploit them for shameful trafficking or commerce, or train them for war and violence. But even in so-called wealthy countries many children live in dramatic situations that scar them deeply because of crises in the family, educational gaps and at times inhuman living conditions. In every case, their childhood is violated in body and soul. But none of these children are forgotten by the Father who is in heaven! Not one of their tears is lost! Neither is our responsibility lost, the social responsibility of people, of each one of us, and of countries.

Once Jesus rebuked his disciples because they sent away the children whose parents brought them to Him to be blessed. It is a moving Gospel narrative: “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; but Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ And he laid his hands on them and went away” (Mt 19:13-15). How beautiful is this trust of the parents and Jesus’ response! How I would like this passage to become the norm for all children! It is true that by the grace of God children in grave difficulty are often given extraordinary parents, ready and willing to make every sacrifice. But these parents should not be left alone! We should accompany them in their toil, and also offer them moments of shared joy and lighthearted cheer, so that they are not left with only routine therapy.

When it comes to children, no matter what, there should be no utterance of those legal defense-like formulas: “after all, we are not a charity”, or, “in private, everyone is free to do as he or she wishes”, or even, “we’re sorry but we can’t do anything”. These words do not count when it comes to children.

Too often the effects of a life worn down by precarious and underpaid work, unsustainable hours, bad transport rebound on the children.... Children also pay the price for immature unions and irresponsible separations: they are the first victims; they suffer the outcome of a culture of exaggerated individual rights, and then the children become more precocious. They often absorb the violence they are not able to “ward off” and before the very eyes of adults are forced to grow accustomed to degradation.

Also in our age, as in the past, the Church sets her motherhood at the service of children and their families. To parents and children of this world of ours, she bears the blessing of God, motherly tenderness, a firm reproach and strong condemnation. Children are no laughing matter!

Think what a society would be like if it decided, once and for all, to establish this principle: “It’s true, we are not perfect and we make many mistakes. But when it comes to the children who come into the world, no sacrifice on the part of adults is too costly or too great, to ensure that no child believe he or she was a mistake, is worthless or is abandoned to a life of wounds and to the arrogance of men”. How beautiful a society like this would be! I say that for such a society, much could be forgiven, innumerable errors. Truly a great deal.

The Lord judges our life according to what the angels of children tell him, angels who “always behold the face of the Father who is in heaven” (cf. Mt 18:10). Let us always ask ourselves: what will the children’s guardian angels tell God about us?"

"J’adresse mon cordial salut aux pèlerins francophones, en particulier aux servants de messe de Suisse et aux groupes venus de France et de Belgique, ainsi qu’aux Congolais de Londres. En ce temps de Pâques, je vous encourage à être de véritables témoins du Christ Ressuscité, dans vos familles et dans vos milieux de vie. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

[Rivolgo il mio cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua francese, in particolare ai ministranti della Svizzera e ai gruppi venuti dalla Francia e dal Belgio, come pure ai Congolesi di Londra. In questo tempo di Pasqua, vi incoraggio ad essere dei veri testimoni di Cristo Risorto, nelle vostre famiglie e nei vostri luoghi di vita. Che Dio vi benedica!]

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Sweden, Nigeria, Japan, Thailand, Canada and the United States.  May the Risen Lord confirm you in faith and make you witnesses of his love and mercy to all people. May God bless you!

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Irlanda, Svezia, Nigeria, Giappone, Thailandia, Canada e Stati Uniti. Il Signore Risorto vi confermi nella fede e vi renda testimoni del suo amore e della sua misericordia per tutti. Dio vi benedica!]

Ein herzliches Willkommen den zahlreichen Pilgern und Besuchern aus Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz. Insbesondere grüße ich die Seminaristen aus dem Bistum Speyer mit ihrem Bischof Karl-Heinz Wiesemann sowie die Pfarrgemeinderäte aus dem Erzbistum München und Freising in Begleitung von Weihbischof Wolfgang Bischof. Allen wünsche ich einen fruchtbaren Aufenthalt in Rom. Frohe Ostern!

[Un cordiale benvenuto ai numerosi pellegrini della Germania, dell’Austria e della Svizzera. In particolare saluto i seminaristi della Diocesi di Speyer con il loro Vescovo Mons. Karl-Heinz Wiesemann, nonché i membri dei Consigli pastorali dell’Arcidiocesi di München-Freising con l’Ausiliare Mons. Wolfgang Bischof. A tutti auguro un soggiorno fruttuoso a Roma. Frohe Ostern!]

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España, Argentina, México y otros países latinoamericanos. Queridos hermanos, pidamos para que nunca más tengan que sufrir los niños la violencia y la prepotencia de los mayores. Muchas gracias.

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua spagnola venuti da Spagna, Argentina, Messico e altri Paesi latinoamericani. Cari fratelli, preghiamo perché i bambini non debbano più soffrire la violenza e l’arroganza degli adulti. Grazie mille.]

Saúdo os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente os fiéis vindos de Portugal e do Brasil. Queridos amigos, cuidar das crianças significa crer que cada uma delas é um dom de Deus para o mundo. Não poupemos esforços para que elas possam sentir-se sempre acolhidas e amadas nas nossas famílias e nas nossas comunidades. Uma feliz Páscoa para todos!

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua portoghese, in particolare i fedeli venuti dal Portogallo e dal Brasile. Cari amici, prendersi cura dei bambini significa credere che ciascuno di loro è un dono di Dio al mondo. Non risparmiamo gli sforzi affinché essi possano sentirsi sempre accolti e amati nelle nostre famiglie e nelle nostre comunità. Buona Pasqua a tutti!]

أتوجه بتحية قلبية للمؤمنين الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة القادمين من ‏العراق‏ ومن الشرق الأوسط. الأطفال هم غالبا أول ضحايا المشاكل الأسرية ‏والنزاعات والحروب والاضطهادات. فلنصلي ‏ من أجل جميع الأطفال المتألمين، ‏طالبين من الله أن يحميهم من كل شر، وأن يوقظ الضمائر النائمة، ويتوب ‏القلوب الحجرية، كي لا يحرم أحد منهم من الحب والرعاية. ‏ليبارك الرب الأطفال ‏جميعا، ويحرسكم من ‏الشرير!‏

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua araba, ‎in ‎particolare a quelli provenienti dall’Iraq e dal ‎Medio ‎Oriente. ‎I bambini sono spesso le prime vittime dei ‎problemi familiari, dei conflitti, delle guerre e delle ‎persecuzioni. Preghiamo per tutti i bambini sofferenti, ‎chiedendo al Signore di custodirli da ogni male, di risvegliare ‎le coscienze addormentate e di convertire i cuori di pietra ‎affinché non manchi a nessun bambino l’amore e la cura. Il ‎Signore benedica tutti i bambini e li ‎protegga dal maligno!‎]

Serdeczne pozdrowienie kieruję do wszystkich Polaków. Drodzy bracia i siostry, w tym wielkanocnym okresie życzę wam, aby pokój i radość zmartwychwstania naszego Pana była zawsze obecna w każdym i każdej z was, w waszych rodzinach i wspólnotach. Dziękuję wam za życzenia, wyrazy duchowej bliskości, jakie napłynęły z okazji świąt Wielkiej Nocy. Zawierzam się waszym modlitwom i odwzajemniam je, prosząc Pana, aby darzył was obfitymi łaskami i błogosławieństwem. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

[Un cordiale saluto rivolgo a tutti i polacchi. Cari fratelli e sorelle, in questo periodo pasquale vi auguro che la pace e la gioia della risurrezione del nostro Signore sia sempre presente in ciascuno e ciascuna di voi, nelle vostre famiglie e nelle comunità. Vi ringrazio per tutti gli auguri e le espressioni di vicinanza spirituale che sono giunte in occasione della Santa Pasqua. Mi affido alle vostre preghiere e le contraccambio, chiedendo al Signore di elargire su di voi un’abbondanza di grazie e la Sua benedizione. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!]

Srdačno pozdravljam sve hrvatske hodočasnike, a osobito sve mlade volontere iz Dubrovačke biskupije, zajedno s njihovim Pastirom, Mons. Matom Uzinićem. Dragi mladi prijatelji, vi ste sinovi i kćeri Crkve, koja je vaša Majka i Učiteljica. Kao što Crkva tješi tolike u potrebi, tako i vi svojim nesebičnim zalaganjem te s mladenačkim žarom i radošću izgrađujte društvo u kojemu živite. Budite spremni naći svoje mjesto u Crkvi i u društvu, prihvaćajući velikodušno zadaće koje vam se povjeravaju.Vaša mladost treba biti snažna, poduprta vjerom a ne prolaznim stvarima. Samo ćete tako uvijek iznova nalaziti Krista Uskrsnuloga, koji nas je oslobodio od smrti. Zahvalan za vaše zalaganje u Crkvi, od srca vas blagoslivljam! Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

[Saluto cordialmente tutti i pellegrini croati, in particolare i giovani volontari della Diocesi di Dubrovnik, insieme con il loro Pastore, Mons. Mate Uzinić. Cari amici, voi siete i figli della Chiesa che è vostra Madre e Maestra. Come la Chiesa consola tanti che sono bisognosi, così anche voi, con il vostro zelo fraterno, edificate il mondo in cui vivete. Sappiate trovare il vostro posto nella Chiesa e nella società, assumendo generosamente gli impegni che ora vi vengono affidati in famiglia e fuori. La vostra gioventù sia forte e si nutra della fede e non di altro!Solo così troverete sempre di nuovo nella vostra vita Cristo Risorto, che ci ha liberati dalla morte. Grato per il vostro impegno nella Chiesa, vi benedico tutti. Siano lodati Gesù e Maria!]

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Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. Sono lieto di accogliere i ragazzi della professione di fede di Milano e gli adolescenti della diocesi di Cremona: vi esorto a vivere sempre la fede con entusiasmo e a non perdere la speranza nel Signore Risorto, che riempie di gioia e di felicità la nostra vita. Saluto i Diaconi della Compagnia di Gesù e i religiosi redentoristi, esortando ciascuno a testimoniare l’amore di Gesù e la fedeltà alla Chiesa. Saluto le Associazioni e i gruppi parrocchiali, in particolare i fedeli di Canosa di Puglia, in occasione dell’anno giubilare del patrono San Sabino.

Porgo un particolare pensiero ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. L’annuncio pasquale continui a farci ardere il cuore nel petto, come ai discepoli di Emmaus: cari giovani, solo il Signore Gesù può rispondere completamente alle aspirazioni di felicità e di bene nella vostra vita; cari ammalati, non c’è consolazione più bella alla vostra sofferenza della certezza della Risurrezione di Cristo; e voi, cari sposi novelli, vivete il vostro matrimonio in concreta adesione a Cristo e agli insegnamenti del Vangelo."

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