Each week we let Saint Pope John Paul II share meaningful signposts to spark socio-economic resolves through justice and righteousness combined with mercy and compassion; in short, love.

In my Lenten Message this year [2004], I asked Christians to place children at the center of Christianity.

Many of them are victims of dangerous diseases, including tuberculosis and AIDS. Some are deprived of education and go hungry. Starvation and malnutrition, aggravated by disconcerting gaps in health care, continue to be the daily cause of death for many of these little ones who are even denied the minimum, indispensable for their survival. 

In some corners of the earth, especially in the poorest countries, children and adolescents are the victims of a terrible form of violence: they are enlisted to fight in the so-called “forgotten wars.”

Indeed, they suffer doubly scandalous aggression: they are made victims of war, and at the same time, forced to play the lead in it, swept away in the hatred of adults. Stripped of everything, they see their future threatened by a nightmare challenging to dispel. 

Our youngest “brothers and sisters” who suffer from hunger, war, and diseases are launching a desperate appeal to the adult world. May their cry of pain not go unheard! Jesus reminds us: “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me” (Matthew 18: 5). 

The Lenten season spurs Christians to accept the Gospel’s words more generously to express them in courageous interventions for children at risk and abandonment. 

I wish you all a good Sunday.




Fifth Sunday of Lent, 28 March 2004