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Protect children, Pope urges world’s bishops

January 02, 2017

In a letter to the world’s bishops, written for the feast of the Holy Innocents, Pope Francis has called for extra efforts to protect children.

Reflecting on the slaughter of children by King Herod, the Pope observed “that sad chapter in history is still being written today.”

“Today too, we hear this heart-rending cry of pain, which we neither desire nor are able to ignore or to silence,” the Pope wrote. He remarked that just as the birth of Jesus Christ was a time of sorrow for the families of the slain children, today as well: “Christmas is also accompanied, whether we like it or not, by tears.”

In his December 28 letter, the Pope reflected on the many children who suffer violence and abuse, and said that Christians should have the courage to protect the innocence of the young:

The courage to guard this joy from the new Herods of our time, who devour the innocence of our children. An innocence robbed from them by the oppression of illegal slave labour, prostitution and exploitation. An innocence shattered by wars and forced immigration, with the great loss that this entails. Thousands of our children have fallen into the hands of gangs, criminal organizations and merchants of death, who only devour and exploit their neediness.

Pope Francis went on to note that the Church has a particular obligation to remember “the sufferings, the experiences, and the pain of minors who were abused sexually by priests.” He voiced his sorrow for “the sin of what happened, the sin of failing to help, the sin of covering up, the sin of the abuse of power.” He insisted that the Church must maintain an absolute “zero tolerance” policy regarding abuse.

The Pope also mentioned the suffering of children who live through crises, who are forced to flee from their homes, who are malnourished, who are engaged in child labor, who live in extreme policy, and who lack access to education. He did not mention abortion, but he said that Christians should “embrace human life, especially that of the holy innocents of our own day.”


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  • Posted by: Travelling - Jan. 02, 2017 5:47 PM ET USA

    Wish he specific about abortion. Needs to be said.