One week after canonizing Sts. Francisco and Jacinta in Fatima, the pope talks with a group of children
ROME — One week after canonizing two of the Fatima visionaries, brother and sister St. Francisco and St. Jacinta Marto, Pope Francis was asked by a group of children: “What can we do to save the world?”
The pope met with the children on Sunday, May 21, during a parish visit to the Church of St. Peter Damien, on the outskirts of Rome.
The children of the parish also asked the pope how he knew he had a vocation to the priesthood; what they can do to follow Jesus more faithfully; and what sport he played when he was young. To the latter he answered “soccer,” though he said he wasn’t very good at running and so always played goalie.
Here below is a portion of the exchange.
Children: What can we children do to save the world?
Pope Francis: This is a good question. You asked: “What can we do to save, to help to save the world?” But the world is big! Can a child — think, think well before answering — can a boy, a little boy, a girl, a little girl, help to save the world? … Can they or not?
Children: They can’t…
Pope Francis: They can’t do anything?… You all don’t count for anything?… Can they do something or not?
Children: They can!
Pope Francis: All right! I little louder, I don’t hear you…
Children: [shouting] They can!
Pope Francis: I would like to hear from you. Who is the best at answering this question, think well: how can I help Jesus to save the world? How can I help Jesus to save the world? Those who want to answer, raise your hands … [Someone says: “With prayer”]. With prayer, can we help Jesus save the world? Can we or not?
Children: We can!
Pope Francis: What’s going on? Are you all asleep?
Pope Francis: Oh, it’s the sun, the sun … The sun is making you sleepy… with prayer. Very good. Something else? You…
A little boy: By respecting people.
Pope Francis: Respecting people. Should people be respected?
Pope Francis: Dad, Mom, grandpa, grandma: should they be respected?
Pope Francis: And the people I don’t know, who live in the neighborhood: should they be respected?
Pope Francis: And the people who live on the street, the homeless people: should they be respected?
Pope Francis: Yes. Everyone, all people should be respected. Shall we say it together?
Pope and children: All people should be respected!
Pope Francis: And do I have to respect someone who doesn’t love me?
Pope Francis: Are you sure?
Pope Francis: But wouldn’t it be better to give him a good slap?
Pope Francis: Really?
Pope Francis: All right: even someone who doesn’t love me should be respected.
Pope Francis and children: Even someone who doesn’t love me should be respected.
Pope Francis: And if someone has hurt me once, think about this: what should I do? If a person has hurt me, may I harm him?
Pope Francis: No. It’s not nice. Can I call the mafia and ask them to do something?
Pope Francis: You aren’t convinced … can I do this?
Pope Francis: Can we make deals with the mafia?
Pope Francis: No! Even those [who do harm] should be respected. You have answered well. See how many ways we can help Jesus to save the world. And this is beautiful; it is very beautiful! And if I have done my homework and Mamma lets me go play outside with my friends, or play a game, is this nice?
Pope Francis: Playing — think well — can playing, playing well, help Jesus to save the world?
Pope Francis: You aren’t convinced…
Pope Francis: Yes! Because joy helps Jesus to save the world. Let’s all say it together.
Pope and children: Joy helps Jesus to save the world.
Pope Francis: Joy is a very beautiful thing, very beautiful. Are you joyful today?
Pope Francis: And this is very beautiful. And I think with this I have answered: “What can we do to help Jesus save the world.” You all think about it, after, always.
[The pope answers another question, then says…]
Pope Francis: I don’t remember: should I slap someone who doesn’t love me?
Pope Francis: Ah! I had forgotten. And should I pray for people who hate me?
Pope Francis: Yes, yes: pray for the one who doesn’t love you; I should pray for that person. And do I have to be obedient to my mother and father?
Pope Francis: Me, or the child next to me?
Pope Francis: Ah, everyone! Everyone say “I.”
Pope Francis: I should obey Mom and Dad: everyone!
Children: I should obey Mom and Dad.
Pope Francis: It’s very important, because they sacrifice for us. Do you understand?
Pope Francis: Very good. And now, what shall we do? Now let us say a prayer. In the first question we talked about prayer. Now let us say a prayer for each other. Everyone hold hands, everyone. As brothers and sisters, as friends. Hold hands, everyone. And let us pray to Our Lady, who is our Mother:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Pope Francis: And now I will give you all a blessing. In silence, everyone think of his parents, relatives, and friends. Think even of your enemies, of people who hate you or who don’t love you. And that this blessing will descend on them, on everyone.
[The pope imparts his blessing]