In The Pope Video for December 2019, Francis turns his attention to the very young—to children—praying that all countries in the world will take measures to make their future a priority. He insists that “every child who is marginalized, abused, abandoned, without schooling, or without medical care, is a cry that rises up to God.”
According to reports on the State of the World’s Children from 2016 and 2017, children make up more than half of the 900 million people who survive on less than two dollars a day. In 2019, 149 million of children under the age of 5 suffered from stunted growth. In the area of education, despite the fact that progress has been made in school enrollment, more than 175 million boys and girls don’t go to pre-primary education—a problem that is exacerbated by armed conflicts, which in many places are lasting longer and longer. Unfortunately, nearly 250 million children live in countries or regions affected by armed conflicts. These social and economic conditions and living in a state of war impede their normal development and their search for a promising future.
Fr David Stewart SJ, who works in Stamford Hill parish in London, reflects on the Pope’s intention in Living Prayer. He says, “Denial of education is one of many ways in which the young can be made to suffer through no fault of their own. The horror of child abuse, not least by clerics in positions of responsibility and by family members, is also appalling. Inadequate nutrition and limited access to clean water are threats, especially to the very young. Let us pray this intention, with the Pope, in this month of the Nativity of the Christ-child and let us hold our political leaders to account for the life and future of every child.”
Fr Frédéric Fornos SJ, International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (which includes the Eucharistic Youth Movement), emphasizes that we work to achieve the Pope’s intention in our daily life, each of us within our own possibilities, and in ways that could seem quite simple. He reminds parents of the Pope’s message to spend time and play with their children; that availability is very important.
Click on the link above to watch the video.