Pope says children are never a mistake, calls adults to responsibility

By Laura Ieraci
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Children are never a "mistake" and no sacrifice is too great for an adult to make so that children can feel their worth, Pope Francis said.

During his weekly general audience in a chilly, but sunny St. Peter’s Square April 8, the pope continued his series of talks about the family, dedicating a second catechesis to children. He described the great suffering and difficulties many children around the world experience as "a Passion."

Children are the greatest blessing God has bestowed upon men and women, he said. Yet, many children are "rejected, abandoned, robbed of their childhood and of their future," the pope noted, adding that it is "shameful" when people say it is "a mistake" to bring a child into the world.

"Please, let’s not unload our faults on children," he said. "Children are never ‘a mistake.’"

The hunger, poverty, fragility and ignorance of some children "are not mistakes" but "only reasons for us to love them even more, with more generosity," he said.

Pope Francis wondered aloud about the value of international declarations of human and children’s rights if children are then punished for the mistakes of adults.

"All adults are responsible for children and for doing what we can to change this situation," he said.

"Every marginalized and abandoned child, who lives by begging on the street for every little thing, without schooling or healthcare, is a cry to God," he said. Their suffering is the result of a social system, created by adults, he added.

Children who are victims of such poverty often "become prey to criminals who exploit them for immoral trade and commerce or train them for war and violence," he said.

Even in rich countries, "many children live dramas that scar their lives heavily" due to family crises or inhuman living conditions, he said. They suffer the consequences of "a culture of exaggerated individual rights" and become precocious, he added. And often, they absorb the violence they are exposed to, unable to "dispose of it," and "are forced to become accustomed to degradation," the pope said.

"In every case, these are childhoods violated in body and soul," the pope said. "But none of these children is forgotten by the Father in heaven. None of their tears are lost."

The pope also said children, too often, suffer the effects of their parents’ precarious and poorly paid work or unsustainable work hours. Children, he said, "also pay the price of immature unions and irresponsible separations; they are the first victims." He underlined the social responsibility of each person and government toward children.

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