Dear School Children of the United States of America,
This is the Holy Father speaking to you from Rome.
How very good that your Father in Christ can again share a few thoughts with you, His children in the United States.
You know that We visited your well-blessed land on two occasions, the last being only a few short years ago. We saw your great cities, steaming factories, fertile farm-lands, lovely homes, confortable schools and beautiful churches. We rejoice that your country and your parents, in particular, have been able to provide you with so many good things.
However, dear boys and girls, your Holy Father has also visited other places which are not nearly so rich and fortunate. Only recently We returned from an unforgettable visit to India, and We saw many children who had very few of the things which you possess. At one orphanage, We shared a very simple breakfast with the poor children, and even though they had very little and few comforts, they did seem happy because someone was looking after them. These are but a few of the thousands and millions of boys and girls who are cold, sick and hungry. Can you imagine how worried your mothers and fathers would be if you went to bed hungry every night, if you did not have warm clothing during the bitter cold of winter, if you were seriously sick and there was no doctor or medicine to cure you?
Dear children, these are some of the worries of your Father in Christ who is now talking to you. Because all children in the world, in the United States and in every corner of the earth, are Our children, and millions of them are very poor and have nothing - no parents, no homes, and sometimes not even a country of their own, We are saddened.
When one of your brothers or sisters is sick or in trouble, your parents want to give some special attention and care, and, We are sure, so do you. As Our children in Christ, We ask you once again to come to Our help in caring for your needy brothers and sisters of the whole human family. You know that Our Lord Jesus Christ also asks the same of you.
How can you help Us? This you can do again this year through Catholic Relief Services, the excellent organization which your good Bishops have set up to help the poor throughout the world. This is a big task, and so your Bishops depend upon the generous assistance of you and your families.
Your little sacrifices during this Lenten season can accomplish much spiritual good for you, and at the same time they will assure bodily good to Our needy children in other lands. Therefore make these sacrifices generously. Then offer the cost of this sacrifice by contributing to the joint offering being gathered by your classroom and school between now and Easter Sunday.
Lent is also a time for special prayers, and We ask you to remember your poor brothers and sisters in your prayers. Beg, Almighty God to bless them and to give all of them His richest graces.
Grateful for whatever you will do, great or small, for your less fortunate brothers and sisters, We ask for you, your parents, priests, religious and teachers the best blessing of Our Father in Heaven, and, in pledge thereof, We lovingly impart Our paternal Apostolic Benediction.