Pope Francis pushed for a “culture of life” Friday, noting that among the most fragile people on earth are the many rejected children “who never see the light of day.”
In an address in the Vatican to the Hospital of the Innocents Institute of Florence, the pope told his audience we must promote a “culture of the child” and learn to be like little children because Jesus said, ‘If you do not become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.’”
“How badly we need a culture that recognizes the value of life, especially of the weak, threatened, and offended,” Francis said, “a culture that recognizes in every face, even the smallest, the face of Jesus: ‘Whoever welcomes one child like this in my name, welcomes me’ (Mt 18.5).”
Many mothers abort their children because they “suffer economic, social, cultural conditioning that pushes them to give up that wonderful gift that is the birth of a child,” he stressed. And many other children are “robbed of their childhood and their future” oftentimes facing desperate journeys to escape hunger or war.
“Today the goal we must set for ourselves,” he said, “is that no mother find herself in a position to have to abandon her child.”
The solution to helping so many unwanted children, the pope said, is to promote a “culture of adoption.”
“So often there are people who want to adopt children, but there is such a big bureaucracy, not to mention when there is corruption at play,” he said.
“There are many, many families who do not have children and would certainly want to have one through adoption,” he continued, adding that what is needed is to “create a culture of adoption because there are so many abandoned children, lonely children, victims of war and other things.”
With its six centuries of history, the pope said, the Institute of the Innocents “speaks to us of a city that has put the best of itself in welcoming children, so that they should no longer be called ‘abandoned’ but welcomed, entrusted to the love and care of the community.”
We must ensure that in the face of any event or tragedy that could separate a child from his parents, “there be structures and paths of welcome in which childhood is always protected and cared for, in the only worthy way: by giving children the best we can offer them,” he said.