By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Peering just over the windowsill of Pope Francis’ studio above St. Peter’s Square, five children aged 7-10 joined the pope to announce a special gathering of children at the Vatican in November.
“As you can see, beside me today are five children who represent the five continents,” Pope Francis said Oct. 1 after reciting the Angelus. “I would like to announce along with them that on the afternoon of Nov. 6, in the Paul VI Hall, I will meet with children from all over the world.”
“‘Let us learn from boys and girls’ is the theme for this event, sponsored by the Dicastery for Culture and Education,” the pope added.
The four boys and one girl originally came from Syria, Ukraine, Benin, Guatemala and Australia, according to Vatican News.
Pope Francis said the November meeting will help grown-ups “retrieve the pure sentiments of children because the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children. Children teach us how to be transparent in relationships, how to spontaneously welcome those who are strangers, and how to respect all of creation.”
“Dear children,” the pope said, “I look forward to learning from all of you!”
Also Oct. 1, the Vatican released a letter from Pope Francis to children, young adults, parents and clergy involved in the Holy Childhood Association, which was founded in 1843 to promote missionary awareness among Catholic children and to support missionary work with children.
The pope issued his letter on the 150th anniversary of the birth of the most famous member of the association, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who joined when she was 7 and was later proclaimed patroness of the missions.
St. Thérèse, he wrote, teaches Christians that “with our prayer, even if we are small, we can contribute to making Jesus known and loved, silently, helping others to do good.”
Prayer, she taught, “is the first missionary action, and can reach every place in the world, every child and young person, every missionary,” he said.
Through prayer, he said, young Catholics can grow “in friendship with our Savior, and in friendship among yourselves and with all the children and young people of the world, so as to be peacemakers.”
As true disciples of Jesus, the pope said, every Christian must “ardently desire that all be saved.”
Through the Holy Childhood Association, one of the pontifical missionary works, children and young people around the world collaborate with the pope in that mission, he said.