In his weekly catechesis on the family, Pope Francis chose to reflect on the situation of children Wednesday, calling them “the most beautiful fruit of the blessing that the Creator has given to man and woman.”
Still, the Pope said, children seem to bear the brunt of the errors of their elders. It is children, he said, who “pay the price of immature unions and irresponsible separations: they are the first victims; they suffer the results of a culture of exaggerated individual rights,” he said.
“Many children are rejected right from the beginning, abandoned, robbed of their childhood and their future. Some dare to say, as if to justify themselves, that it was a mistake to bring them into the world. This is shameful! Let’s not dump our faults on children, please! Children are never a mistake,” he said.
The Pope has been dedicating his Wednesday audiences to speak about the family, in preparation for next fall’s Vatican synod on the family and his trip to Philadelphia to take part in the World Meeting of Families in September.
“Their hunger is not an error, nor is their poverty, their frailty, their abandonment,” Francis continued. “And neither is their ignorance or their incapacity—so many children do not even know what a school is. If anything, these are reasons to love them more, with greater generosity.”
“Why do we make solemn declarations about human rights and the rights of the child, if we then turn around and punish children for the mistakes of adults?” he said.
“Every child who begs on the streets, who is denied an education or medical care, is a cry to God,” he said.
Yet these desperate situations are not limited to underdeveloped countries, Francis continued, because “even in the so-called rich countries, many children live dramas that mark them for life, because of the crisis of the family, a lack of education and sometimes inhuman living conditions.”
“But none of these children is forgotten by the heavenly Father!” Francis said. “None of their tears will be lost!”
The Pope recalled that on one occasion Jesus rebuked his disciples because they were turning away children that their parents were bringing to him for his blessing. To this Jesus responded, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”
“How I wish this page would become the normal history of all children!” the Pope said.
When it comes to children, Francis said, “you should never hear legalistic excuses like, ‘sorry, we are not a charity’; or ‘everyone is free to do what he wants in his private life,’ or even, ‘sorry, there is nothing we can do.’ These words are meaningless when it comes to children,” he said.
“Think what our society would be like if we decided, once and for all, to establish this principle: ‘It’s true that we are not perfect and that we commit many errors. But when it comes to the children in the world, no sacrifice of adults will be deemed too costly or too large, if it means preventing a child from thinking he is a mistake,’” he said.
“What a beautiful society this would be! I say that in a society like this, much would be forgiven, despite its many mistakes,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome