"Are we able to be with children, to 'waste time' with them? Do we listen to them, defend them, and pray for them and with them? Or do we disregard them, because we're busy taking care of our own interests?" Pope Francis asked these questions in a letter sent on the occasion of the National Children's Week in Brazil and read on Wednesday, October 12th, in the sanctuary of the country's patron saint, by the Cardinal Archbishop of Aparecida, Raymundo Damasceno Assis, during the opening celebration of the 300th jubilee anniversary of the discovery of the image of Our Lady of Aparecida in the Paraiba do Sul river.
Supporting the national campaign for the eradication of child labor that ended last Sunday, Francis recalled that the Children's Week, organized by the sanctuary in collaboration with the regional labor courts and the attorney general of the State of São Paulo, "wants to promote the eradication of child labor and offer children a quality education that will ensure them a better future." Then, he urged not to forget that "children are a sign of hope and an indicator for measuring the state of health of a family, of a society and of the entire world. When children are welcomed, loved, protected, and cared for by a wise family, society improves and the world is more human." To do this—he concluded—"we must always renew our hope to welcome children more and better."