May 31, 2024

Verbatim: A message from Pope Francis on the inaugural World Children’s Day in Rome


A message from Pope Francis on the inaugural World Children’s Day in Rome, May 25 2024.

I want to speak to each of you, dear children, because, as the Bible teaches us, and as Jesus showed so often, “you are precious” in God’s eyes (Is 43:4).

At the same time, I am addressing this Message to all of you, because all children, everywhere, are a sign of every person’s desire to grow and flourish. You remind us that we are all children, brothers and sisters. We would not be alive unless others brought us into this world, nor could we grow without having others to love and from whom to receive love (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 95).

All of you, girls and boys, are a source of joy for your parents and your families, but also for our human family and for the Church, in which each of us is like a link in a great chain stretching from the past to the future and covering the whole earth. That is why I encourage you to pay attention to the stories of grown-ups: your moms and dads, your grandparents and great grandparents. And not to forget all those other children and young people who are already battling illness and hardship, who even now are being cruelly robbed of their childhood. Let us listen to their voices…for amid their sufferings they remind us of reality, with their tearful eyes and tenacious yearning for goodness that endures in the hearts of those who have truly seen the horror of evil.

Dear young friends, for us and our world to grow and flourish, it is not enough to be united with one another; we need, above all else, to be united with Jesus. From him we receive a great deal of courage. He is always close to us, his Spirit goes before us and accompanies us on all the world’s pathways. With Jesus, we can dream of the renewal of our human family and work for a more fraternal society that cares for our common home. This starts with little things like saying hello, asking permission, begging pardon, and saying thank you. Our world will change if we all begin with these little things, without being ashamed to take small steps, one at a time….

We cannot be happy all by ourselves because our joy increases to the extent we share it. Joy is born of gratitude for the gifts we have received and share in turnWhen we throw tantrums to get this or that gift, we forget the greatest gift we possess is ourselves. All of us together are “God’s gift.” Other gifts are nice if they help us to be together. If we don’t use them for that purpose, we will always end up being unhappy; they will never be enough.

Think of your friends, and how great it is to spend time with them at home, at school, in the parish and the playground, everywhere. Playing, singing, discovering new things, having fun, everyone together and excluding no one. Friendship is wonderful and grows only through sharing and forgiving, with patience, courage, creativity and imagination, without fear and without prejudice.

Now, I am going to share a special secret with you. If we really want to be happy, we need to pray because prayer connects us directly to God. Prayer fills our hearts with light and warmth. Jesus constantly prayed to the Father. Do you know what Jesus called him? He simply called him “Abba”, which means “Daddy” (cf. Mk 14:36). Let’s do the same thing! We will always feel Jesus is close to us. 

I would ask all of you to pray the same prayer Jesus taught us – the Our Father. Recite it every morning and every evening, in your families too. Think about those words Jesus taught us. He is calling us, on this World Children’s Day, to become builders of a new, more humane, just and peaceful world. Jesus, who offered himself on the Cross to gather us in love, who conquered death and reconciled us with the Father, wants to continue his work in the Church through us. Think about this, especially those of you who are preparing to receive First Communion.

Together with the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, let us pray in these words:

Come, Holy Spirit,
show us your beauty,
reflected in the faces of children all over the the world.
Come, Jesus, you who make all things new,
who are the way that leads us to the Father,
come and remain with us always.

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