Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has asked "forgiveness on behalf of the Church for the scandals that recently occurred in Rome and in the Vatican” in unscripted remarks at today’s general audience, which was inspired by the Gospel of Luke 17 (and Mathew 18), where it says " Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come! If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna. See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father".
Hence also the speech for the general audience dedicated to the "promises we make to children", which are promises of love, the mirror of God's love for the little ones.
Addressing 40 thousand people in St. Peter's Square - among them a group of Iraqi and Syrian refugees - and hundreds of sick people gathered in the Audience Hall, Pope Francis also appealed for a greater commitment against "extreme poverty". "Next Saturday, October 17 - he said – is the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty. This day aims to increase efforts to eliminate extreme poverty and discrimination, and to ensure that everyone can fully exercise their basic rights. Everyone is invited to make this our intention, so that Christ’s love reaches and alleviates our poorest and most abandoned brothers and sisters ".
In today's catechesis Francis spoke of "the promises we make to children. Here, I am not speaking of the day-to-day promises we make, to keep them happy or to make them feel good (perhaps with some innocent trick, if you do this I will give you a candy, these promises ...), to entice them to engage in school or to deter some whim. I am speaking about other promises, the most important promises, decisive for their life expectations, for their trust in human beings, for their ability to conceive God's name as a blessing. These are all promises that we make them. "
"We adults always speak about children as a promise of life. We all say: Children are a promise of life. And we are easily moved by this, saying that young people are our future, it is true. But I wonder, sometimes, if we are just as serious with their future with the future of children and the future of young people! A question we should ask ourselves more often is this: do we keep the promise we make to children, when we bring them into our world? We bring them into the world and that's a promise, what do we promise them? ".
"A home and care, to be close to them and pay attention to them, trust and hope, these are all basic promises that can be summarized in one: love. We promise them love, that love which is expressed in welcome, care, in closeness, in attention, trust and hope, but love is the great promise. This is the proper way to welcome a human being who comes into the world, and we all learn, even before knowing it. I love it when I see dads and moms, when I pass among you and your bring me your child, a little girl, a little boy (and I ask): "How old are they?" - "Three weeks, four weeks ... But I want the Lord to bless him or her! ". This is also called love, huh? Love is a promise that the man and the woman make to every child: from the very moment they are conceived in thought. Children come into the world and expect to have confirmation of this promise: They expect it totally, trusting, defenseless. Just look: in all ethnic groups, in all cultures, in all conditions of life! When the opposite occurs, children are injured by a 'scandal', by an unbearable scandal, all the more serious, because they do not have the means to decipher it. They cannot understand what's happening. God watches over this promise, from the first moment. Remember what Jesus said? The Angels of children reflect the gaze of God, and God never loses sight of the children (cf. Mt 18:10). Woe to those who betray their trust, woe! Their trusting abandonment to our promise, which commits us to them from the first moment, judges us. "
"And I would add one other thing, with a lot of respect for everyone, but also quite frankly. Their spontaneous trust in God should never be hurt, especially when it happens because of a certain presumption (more or less unconscious) to replace Him with ourselves. The tender and mysterious relationship between God and the soul of a child should never be violated. It is a real relationship, that is God's will and God protects the child. The child is ready at birth to feel loved by God, he or she is ready for this. As soon as they are able to feel that they are loved on their own merit, they also feel that there is a God who loves children ".
"The children, once born, begin to receive a gift, along with nourishment and care, that is the confirmation of the spiritual qualities of love. Acts of love pass through the gift of the personal name, the sharing of language, meaningful looks, bright smiles. They learn that the beauty of the bond between humans points to our soul, seeking our freedom, accepting the diversity of the other, it recognizes and respects him as an interlocutor. A second miracle, a second promise: We – mother and father- we give ourselves to you, so you can give yourself to yourself! And this is love, that brings a spark of God’s love! But you, fathers and mothers, have this spark of God which you give to children, you are the instrument of God's love, and this is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! ".
"Only if we look at the children through the eyes of Jesus, can we truly understand in what sense, by defending the family,we protect humanity! The point of view of children is the point of view of the Son of God. The Church herself, in Baptism, makes great promises to children, which commits parents and the Christian community. May the Holy Mother of Jesus - by which the Son of God came to us, loved and was created as a child – help the Church to follow the path of her motherhood and her faith. And Saint Joseph – the righteous man, who welcomed and protected, bravely honoring the blessing and the promise of God - makes us all worthy and able to welcome Jesus in every child that God sends on earth”.