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On the Children's Side

by Pope Francis

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  • Descriptive Title:
    Pope Francis Address to the Italian Movement for Life
    Description:
    On April 11, 2014, in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace Pope Francis received 470 members of the Italian Movement for Life. The Pontiff thanked them for their work, especially for the "Progetto Gemma" (a form of prenatal adoption at a distance to assist pregnant women in difficulty) which, he said, "in these twenty years has enabled, through a particular form of concrete solidarity, the birth of many children who otherwise would never have seen the light of day". "Human life is sacred and inviolable", he emphasized.
  • Publisher & Date:
    Vatican, April 11, 2014

Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the abuse of minors perpetrated by some priests. He chose to do it in the presence of members of the International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE), whom he received in audience this morning, Friday 11 April, in his Private Library. In an extended off-the-cuff passage during his speech, he said he felt called to take responsibility “for all the evil” done by a few priests and “to ask forgiveness for the harm that had been done, for the sexual abuse of children”.

Then the Holy Father turned his attention to the many other forms of violence that children are forced to endure – from the slave labour to recruitment as child soldiers or for every kind of evil – and he strongly reaffirmed their right to grow up in a family, with a father and mother able to create a suitable environment for their development.

Also, that morning, the Holy Father met with the Italian Movement for Life, and thanked them for their many years of service and for the many children they have helped save.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

When I entered I thought I had taken the wrong door, that I had entered a kindergarten... Pardon me!

I give a warm welcome to each one of you. I greet Mr Carlo Casini and I thank him for his words, but above all I express my gratitude for all the work he has done over these many years in the Movement for Life. I hope that when the Lord calls him children are there to open the door above! I great the Presidents of Prolife Help Centres and those in charge of the various services, especially “Project Gemma”, which in these 20 years has allowed, through a particular kind of concrete solidarity, the birth of many children who otherwise would not have seen the light.

Thank you for the testimony you give by promoting and defending human life from the moment of conception! We know it, human life is sacred and inviolable. Every civil right rests on the recognition of the first and fundamental right, that of life, which is not subordinated to any condition, be it quantitative, economic or, least of all, ideological. “Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills .... Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a ‘throw away’ culture which is now spreading” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, n. 53). And in this way life, too, ends up being thrown away.

One of the greatest risks which this epoch faces is a divorce between economics and morality, among the opportunities offered by a market equipped with every techonological innovation and with the basic ethical norms of human nature left more and more neglected. It is therefore necessary to reiterate the strongest possible opposition to every direct attack on life, especially against the innocent and defenseless, and the unborn in a mother’s womb is the paragon of innocence. Let us remember the words of the Second Vatican Council: “Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes” (Constitution Gaudium et Spes, n. 51). I remember once, a long time ago, I had a conference with medical doctors. After the conference I greeted the doctors — this happened a long time ago. I was greeting the doctors, speaking with them, and one called me aside. He was holding a package and said to me: “Father, I want to leave this with you. These are the instruments that I used to preform abortions. I have met the Lord, I have repented and now I fight for life”. He handed me all these instruments. Pray for this good man!

Anyone who is Christian has a duty to bear the Gospel witness: protect life courageously and lovingly in all its phases. I encourage you to do this always with the style of closeness, of proximity: so that every woman may feel considered as a person, heard, accepted and accompanied.

We spoke of about children: there are so many! But I would like to speak also about their grand parents, the other side of life! Because we must also care for the grandparents, for both babies and grandparents are the hope of a people: children and young people because they will carry it forward, they will carry the people forward; and grandparents because they have the wisdom of history, they are the memory of the people. To guard life in an age when babies and grandparents enter this culture of waste and become thought of as discardable material. No! Children and grandparents are the hope of the people!

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord sustain the work you carry out as Prolife Help Centres and as the Movement for Life, especially the project “One of us”. I entrust you to the heavenly intercession of the Virgin Mother Mary and from my heart I bless you and your families, your children, your grandparents, and pray for me because I need it!

When one speaks about life one immediately thinks of their mother. Let us turn to our Mother that she may guard us all. Hail Mary...

Blessing

One last thing. The sound of children crying, complaining, screaming is the most beautiful music to me. But some of these babies are crying because they are hungry. Please feed them here in peace!

© Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2014

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