Bookmark and Share

Promises to Children

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Family
General Audience, Wednesday 14 October 2015 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today since the weather was rather uncertain and rain was forecast, this Audience is being held simultaneously in two places: here in the Square and in the Paul VI Hall where 700 sick people are watching on the jumbotron. Let us all join and greet them with a round of applause.

The word of Jesus is powerful today: “Woe to the world, for scandals”. Jesus is realistic and says: “It is inevitable that scandals arise, but woe to the man who causes scandal to occur”. I would like, before beginning the catechesis, on behalf of the Church, to ask for your forgiveness for the scandals that have happened in recent times both in Rome and in the Vatican. I ask your forgiveness.

Today we will reflect on a very important topic: the promises we make to children. I am not speaking so much about the promises we make now and then, during the day, to keep them happy or make them be good (perhaps with some innocent little ruse: I’ll give you a sweet and similar promises...), to encourage them to work hard in school or to coax them not to be wilful. I am speaking about other promises, the most important promises, decisive for their expectations regarding life, for their trust in regard to human beings, for their capacity to perceive the Name of God as a blessing. These are promises that we make to them.

We adults are ready to speak of children as a promise of life. We all say: children are a promise of life. And we are also inclined to feel a bit emotional telling young people that they are our future, it’s true. But sometimes I wonder if we are as serious about their future, about the children’s future and about the future of young people! A question that we should ask ourselves more often is: how sincere are we with the promises that we make to children, having brought them into our world? We make them come into the world and this is a promise. What do we promise them?

Welcome and care, closeness and attention, trust and hope, are likewise basic promises, which can be summed up in a single word: love. We promise love, that is, love which is expressed in welcome, care, closeness, attention, trust and hope, but the real promise is love. This is the best way to welcome a human being who comes into the world, and we all learn this, even before being conscious of it. I like it very much when I see fathers and mothers, when I am among you, bringing me a baby boy, a baby girl and I ask: “How old is he or she?” — “three weeks, four weeks... I ask for the Lord’s blessing”. This too is called love. Love is the promise that a man and woman make to every child: from the moment he or she is conceived in their mind”. Children come into the world and they expect this promise to be confirmed: they expect it in a complete, trusting, defenceless way. It is enough to look at them: in all ethnicities, in all cultures, in all conditions of life! When the opposite occurs, children are wounded by a “scandal”, by an unbearable scandal, all the more serious as they do not have the means to interpret it. They are unable to understand what is happening. God is alert to this promise, from the very first instant. Do you remember what Jesus said? “The children’s angels mirror the gaze of God, and God never loses sight of children (cf. Mt 18:10). Woe to those who betray their trust, woe! Their trustful abandonment to our promise, to which we are committed from the very first instant, judges us.

I would like to add another thing, with due respect for everyone but also with much candour. Their spontaneous trust in God should never be disappointed, especially when it might be due to a certain (more or less unconscious) presumption of replacing him ourselves. The tender and mysterious relationship of God with the soul of children should never be violated. It is a real relationship, which God wants and God safeguards. Children are ready from birth to feel loved by God, they are ready for this. As soon as children are able to feel they are loved for themselves, they also feel that there is a God who loves children.

Children, newborns, begin to receive the gift, along with nourishment and care, of the confirmation of the spiritual qualities of love. Acts of love pass through the gift of a personal name, the sharing of language, the intention behind a gaze, the illumination of a smile. They thus learn that the beauty of the bond between human beings focuses on our soul, seeks our freedom, accepts the difference of others, recognizes and respects them as interlocutors. A second miracle, a second promise: we — mother and father — give ourselves to you, children, in order to give each of you to yourself! And this is love, which bears a spark of the love of God! But you, dads and moms, have this spark of God which you give to your children, you are an instrument of God’s love and this is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

Only if we look at children with the eyes of Jesus can we truly understand how, by defending the family, we protect humanity! The point of view of children is the point of view of the Son of God. The Church herself, in Baptism, makes great promises to children, by which she binds the parents and the Christian community. May the holy Mother of Jesus — through whom the Son of God came to us, loved and begotten as a child — render the Church able to follow the path of her motherhood and of her faith. May St Joseph — a righteous man, who welcomed and protected, courageously honouring the blessing and promise of God — render everyone capable and worthy to welcome Jesus in every child that God sends to the earth."


"Je salue les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les personnes venues de République démocratique du Congo et de France, ainsi que les frères du Sacré-Cœur. Alors que se déroule le Synode des Évêques sur le thème de la famille, je prie pour toutes vos familles, en particulier pour les enfants, afin que nous soyons attentifs à susciter en eux l’amour de Dieu et de leurs frères.
Que Dieu vous bénisse !

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua francese, in particolare le persone venute dalla Repubblica democratica del Congo e dalla Francia, come pure i fratelli del Sacro Cuore. Mentre si svolge il Sinodo dei Vescovi sul tema della famiglia, prego per tutte le vostre famiglie, in particolare per i bambini, affinché siamo attenti a suscitare in loro l’amore di Dio e dei loro fratelli.
Che Dio vi benedica!]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Australia, Papua New Guinea, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Canada and the United States of America. I ask you to pray for the Synod on the Family, and to be witnesses of God’s presence in the world through your family life. God bless you all!

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Scozia, Irlanda, Norvegia, Paesi Bassi, Australia, Papua Nuova Guinea, India, Indonesia, Giappone, Filippine, Thailandia, Canada e Stati Uniti d’America. Vi chiedo di pregare per il Sinodo sulla Famiglia, e di essere testimoni della presenza costante di Dio nel mondo attraverso la vostra vita famigliare. Dio vi benedica tutti!]

Ein herzliches Willkommen sage ich den Pilgern aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Ich begrüße die Neupriester und die neugeweihten Diakone des Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum mit ihren Angehörigen sowie die zahlreichen Schulgruppen, insbesondere das Gymnasium Ursulaschule in Osnabrück. Betet weiterhin für die Bischofssynode. Wir wollen alle die Eltern darin unterstützen, den Kindern eine Zukunft des Lebens und im Glauben zu sichern. Der Heilige Geist leite euch auf euren Wegen.

[Do un caloroso benvenuto ai pellegrini provenienti dai paesi di lingua tedesca. Saluto i nuovi diaconi e sacerdoti del Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum con i loro familiari, nonché i numerosi gruppi di studenti, specialmente il Gymnasium Ursulaschule di Osnabrück. Continuate a pregare per il Sinodo dei Vescovi! Tutti vogliamo assistere i genitori nel garantire ai bambini un futuro di vita e di fede. Lo Spirito Santo vi guidi sul vostro cammino.]

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España y Latinoamérica. De modo especial quiero saludar a los 33 mineros chilenos que estuvieron atrapados en las entrañas de la tierra durante 70 días, creo que cualquiera de ustedes sería capaz de venir acá y decirnos que significa la esperanza. Gracias por tener esperanza en Dios. Que la Virgen María y san José, que tuvieron bajo su custodia al Hijo de Dios, nos enseñen a acoger a Jesús en cada niño. Muchas gracias.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua spagnola, in particolare i gruppi provenienti da Spagna e America latina. In modo speciale desidero salutare i 33 minatori cileni che erano rimasti intrappolati nelle viscere della terra per 70 giorni: credo che qualcuno di voi sarebbe in grado di venire qui a dirci cosa significhi la speranza. Grazie per avere speranza in Dio. La Vergine Maria e san Giuseppe, che aveva la custodia del Figlio di Dio, ci insegnino ad accogliere Gesù in ogni bambino. Grazie mille.]

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, saúdo-vos cordialmente a todos, em particular aos fiéis brasileiros de Bom Despacho, Mogi das Cruzes, Montenegro e Santo Amaro, e peço-vos que acompanheis com a oração o Sínodo em curso. A Virgem Mãe nos ajude a seguir a vontade de Deus, tomando as decisões que melhor convenham à família. Rezai também por mim! Deus vos abençoe!

[Carissimi pellegrini di lingua portoghese, vi saluto cordialmente tutti, in particolare i fedeli brasiliani di Bom Despacho, Mogi das Cruzes, Montenegro e Santo Amaro, e vi chiedo di accompagnare con la preghiera il Sinodo in corso. La Vergine Madre ci aiuti a seguire la volontà di Dio, prendendo le decisioni che meglio convengono alla famiglia. Pregate anche per me! Dio vi benedica!]

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربيّة، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ من الشرق الأوسط، ونخُصّ بالذكر عددًا من اللاجئين العراقييّن والسورييّن الحاضرين معنا هنا اليوم. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، لنكن صادقين في الوعود التي نقطعها للأطفال، ولا نخونَنَّ ثقتهم. ليبارككُم الربّ!

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a quelli provenienti dal Medio Oriente e in modo speciale al gruppo di rifugiati iracheni e siriani presenti oggi con noi. Cari fratelli e sorelle, siamo leali con le promesse che facciamo ai bambini, e non tradiamo la loro fiducia. Il Signore vi benedica!]

Witam serdecznie Polaków. Wczoraj obchodziliśmy wspomnienie błogosławionego ojca Honorata Koźmińskiego, wielkiego czciciela Matki Bożej, który własną krwią napisał akt oddania się Maryi: Tuus Totus. Założył liczne zgromadzenia zakonne, głównie niehabitowe. W najbliższą sobotę jego relikwie zostaną złożone w Panteonie Wielkich Polaków w Świątyni Opatrzności Bożej w Warszawie. W Roku Życia Konsekrowanego i ósmym Roku Nowenny, przygotowującej do obchodów stulecia jego śmierci, prośmy za jego wstawiennictwem o ducha wierności dla wszystkich osób konsekrowanych oraz dar licznych i świętych powołań. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus.

[Saluto cordialmente i polacchi. Ieri abbiamo celebrato la memoria del beato Honorat Kozminski, grande devoto della Vergine Maria, che con il proprio sangue ha scritto l’atto di affidamento alla Madonna: Tuus Totus. Fondò diverse Congregazioni, soprattutto di vita nascosta. Le sue reliquie saranno deposte sabato prossimo nel Pantheon dei Grandi Polacchi, ubicato dentro il Tempio della Provvidenza Divina a Varsavia. Nell’Anno della Vita Consacrata e ottavo della Novena in preparazione al centenario della sua morte, per sua intercessione chiediamo lo spirito di fedeltà per tutti i consacrati e il dono di sante vocazioni. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo.]


Sabato prossimo 17 ottobre ricorrerà la Giornata Mondiale del Rifiuto della Miseria. Questa giornata si propone di accrescere gli sforzi per eliminare l’estrema povertà e la discriminazione, e per assicurare che ciascuno possa esercitare pienamente i propri diritti fondamentali. Siamo tutti invitati a fare nostra questa intenzione, perché la carità di Cristo raggiunga e sollevi i fratelli e le sorelle più poveri e abbandonati.

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua italiana.

Saluto in particolare i Superiori Maggiori dei Chierici Regolari di Somasca e le Religiose dell’Unione Superiore Maggiori d’Italia.

Sono lieto di accogliere i partecipanti al cammino dell’Unione Nazionale Pro Loco d’Italia, l’Associazione Italiana Cristiana Centri ed Opere di Solidarietà di Molfetta e i soci della Banca di Viterbo.

Nel giorno in cui si fa memoria del Papa San Callisto martire, a cui sono dedicate le celebri catacombe, auguro a tutti i pellegrini convenuti a Roma che il ricordo di tanti coraggiosi testimoni di Cristo rinvigorisca la fede di ciascuno.

Porgo un pensiero speciale ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. In questo mese di ottobre siamo tutti chiamati a sostenere le missioni con la preghiera e la solidarietà. Cari giovani, accogliete con gioia l’invito del Signore a impiegare le vostre migliori energie nell’annuncio del Vangelo; cari ammalati, vi ringrazio, perché l’offerta del vostro sacrificio è molto preziosa per quanti ancora non conoscono l’amore di Dio; cari sposi, continuate a proclamare con la vita l’affetto fedele del Signore!"

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana