Pope Francis' Big Heart For Children

문화체육관광부 (2014) via Flickr, CC

A Big Heart Open to God. That's what the world's Jesuit magazines titled their interview with Pope Francis six months into his papacy. (You can read the English-language version at America Magazine here.)

Yes, Pope Francis seems to have a big heart open to God, and to all of us. He often reveals his heart for children too. I would like to dedicate today's blog to some of the Pope's inspiring words about children and the adults who care for them. (All excerpts come from the Vatican Information Service.)

We parents, grandparents, teachers, catechists, and other adults who work for the welfare of children can pray with the Pope. We can pick one or two lines from these passages and ponder them in our hearts, as Jesus' own mother Mary did: 

Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
-Luke 2:19

Vatican City, 12 February 2015 (VIS)
  • “The joy of children makes their parents' hearts leap and opens up the future. Children are the joy of the family and of society. They are not a matter of reproductive biology, or one of the many ways of producing them, much less their parents' possession. Children are a gift. They are a gift. Each one is unique and unrepeatable, and at the same time unmistakably linked to his or her roots. Indeed, to be a son or a daughter according to God's plan, means carrying in oneself the memory and hope of a love that has become tangible by kindling the life of another human being, original and new. And for parents each child is him- or herself, different, unique.”
  • "Children are loved before they are born. I often encounter expectant mothers in the square who ask me to bless their unborn babies. These children are loved before they come into the world. This is gratuitousness, this is love; they are loved before they are born, like the love of God, who always loves us first. They are loved before having done anything to deserve it, before being able to speak or to think, even before being able to come into the world. To be sons and daughters is the fundamental condition for knowing God's love, which is the ultimate source of this authentic miracle. In the soul of every child, although vulnerable, God places the seal of this love, which is the basis of his or her personal dignity, a dignity that nothing and no one can destroy."
  • “Life is rejuvenated and acquires energy by multiplying; it is enriched, not impoverished. . . . In the multiplication of generation there is the mystery of the enrichment of the life of all, that comes from God Himself. We must rediscover this, challenging prejudice; and live it, in faith and in perfect joy.” 

Vatican City, 8 April 2015 (VIS)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • “Many children, from the very beginning, are rejected, abandoned, robbed of their childhood and their future. One might even dare say, almost as a justification, that it was a mistake to bring them into the world. This is shameful! Please, let us not punish them for our own errors! Children are never a mistake!”
  • “Those who have the task of governing and educating – indeed, I would say, all adults – are responsible for children, and everyone must do what he can to change this situation. I refer to the passion of children. Every marginalised, abandoned child, living on the streets by begging or by any other expedient, without schooling, without medical care, is a cry lifted up to God and an accusation against the system we have constructed. . . . However, none of these children are forgotten by the Father in Heaven. None of their tears are in vain. And our responsibility must not be forgotten either, the social responsibility of persons and countries.”
  • “Thanks to God, children with serious difficulties very often find extraordinary parents, willing to make any sacrifice and to spare no act of generosity. . . . These parents should not be left alone! We must accompany them in their efforts, but also offer them moments of shared joy and carefree pleasure, so that they are not entirely consumed by the routines of therapy.”
  • “May the Lord judge our life by listening to what the angels of children bring to Him, those angels that always see the face of the Father in heaven. Let us always ask ourselves, what do they tell God about us, these children's angels?”