After the Angelus on Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI greeted young representatives the world over in commemoration of the Missionary Day of the Children. Celebrated within the parishes of Italy and in cooperating parishes around the globe, the purpose of the Day is to urge children to become protagonists in international mission work.
The Pontiff recognized the initiative in his Italian-language message following the Marian prayer on Wednesday, when he greeted “all of the little missionaries from the five continents with affection” and encouraged them to “always be witnesses of Jesus and announcers of the Gospel.”
The initiative, whose motto is “Children helping children,” is represented by nearly 6,000 young participants within Italy. Chapters of the movement are present in every diocese in the country, according to the Pontifical Work of Missionary Youth (POIM in Italian) which promotes the initiative.
It isn’t the first time the Holy Father has addressed them this year. While the group was on a joint pilgrimage of missionary children from all of Europe in May of 2009 for the Pauline Year, Pope Benedict XVI met with them to tell them how they should go about announcing the Gospel.
In an interview on Vatican Radio on Wednesday, General Secretary of the POIM Father Piero Pierobon said that the Pope told the children that meditation on the word of God, prayer, an awareness of problems and beauty existent in other cultures and solidarity with others are the four elements to becoming a missionary in the world.
The Pope also mentioned in his message that the initiative was promoted by Venerable Pope Pius XII 50 years ago to educate young people to have open minds and be sympathetic to their disadvantaged peers around the world.