"With regard to street children, the figure commonly accepted is the estimation that there are approximately between 100 and 150 million worldwide. The data also show that since the early 1990s the phenomenon has now become urban in nature, throughout the world, and is present with greater harshness in big cities, especially in the southern hemisphere. This is the bitter fruit of the gradual and painful process of a neo-liberal and colonizing system that relies only on the law of the market."
This statement was made by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in his intervention during the International Symposium on Pastoral Care of the Road/Street "Plan of Action in the Light of the Teachings of Pope Francis," organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in the Vatican from 13 to 17 September.
In his speech, entitled "Teachings of Pope Francis [Evangelii Gaudium] and the family of street children/street women," Msgr. Paglia first illustrated with precise data the disturbing phenomenon of the members of poor families and broken homes who end up living in the street, constantly oppressed by abuse and violence. There are over 240 million women around the world who are victims of prostitution, "with an annual turnover of close to 10 billion dollars for the exploiters;" while "increasing numbers of men are looking for prostitutes, more to dominate them than for sexual satisfaction."
In the second part of his speech, the President of the PCF then focused on the human experience and the teaching of Pope Francis, recalling that he wants "a Church which, through a network of family communities, recreates a transversal opening where anyone in need of fraternity is welcomed, without the reductive familyism of "two hearts and a hut." And all this in the line of a new, enthusiastic appeal to families to open wide their hearts and arms so that nobody is excluded. Pope Francis, in his catechesis, explained that this story begins at Nazareth, but that it must go far."