Pope Francis to hold meeting with children at the Vatican on Nov. 6
Five children representing five continents speak with Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on Oct. 1, 2023. The pope will hold a meeting with children at the Vatican on Nov. 6, 2023. | Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis on Sunday announced a meeting with children to be held at the Vatican on Nov. 6.
The event in the Paul VI Audience Hall, sponsored by the Dicastery for Culture and Education, will be dedicated to the theme “Let us learn from boys and girls.”
“It is an event to show the dream we all have: To go back to having the pure sentiments of children because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them,” the pope said after praying the midday Angelus on Oct. 1.
Accompanied by five children from five continents, the pope on Sunday said that children “teach us how to be transparent in relationships, how to welcome strangers, and how to care for creation.”
Sunday’s Angelus, which drew a large crowd of pilgrims to St. Peter’s Square on a sunny afternoon, came during an especially busy weekend at the Vatican.
On Saturday morning the pope elevated 21 new cardinals from 15 different countries during a consistory in St. Peter’s Square. Later in the day, he led an ecumenical prayer vigil, a prelude to the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, also known as the Synod on Synodality, which begins Wednesday and continues through October. The synod’s participants began a three-day retreat Sunday led by Father Timothy Radcliffe. The Dominican priest interrupted his opening meditation, which was livestreamed by the Vatican, for the Angelus.
Sunday also marked the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, whose “little way” of holiness is the subject of a new apostolic letter Pope Francis will publish on Oct. 15. Following his Gospel reflection the pope spoke briefly about the document, calling the “Little Flower” a saint of trust. “May St. Thérèse help us to trust and to work for the missions,” he said.
The apostolic exhortation will be released on the feast of the saint for whom Thérèse is named, St. Teresa of Avila.
Pope Francis also touched on the beginning of the month of the rosary and expressed his attention to the “dramatic situation of the displaced” in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, renewing his call for dialogue “with the hope that conversation, with the support of the international community, can enable a lasting resolution that will put an end to the humanitarian crisis.” He promised his prayers for the dozens of people killed in an explosion at a crowded gas station in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh last week.
Parable of the two sons
His reflection on Sunday’s Gospel — Matthew’s account of Jesus’ parable of the two sons — was a call to avoid the hypocrisy of corruption, even if in our weakness, we will continue to sin.
The parable is more about sincerity than obedience, the pope observed. “Even though neither of the sons behaves impeccably, the first lies, while the second makes a mistake but remains sincere,” he noted.
The first son, who breaks his promise to his father to go work in the vineyard, “gets by without conflict, but he cheats and deceives his father, disrespecting him in a way that is worse than had he responded with a blunt ‘no,’” the pope said. He warned that “there is always the hope of redemption for a sinner; for the corrupt, instead, it is much more difficult.”
The Holy Father said the honesty of the second son, on the other hand, leads him to examine himself and repent, whereas those like the first son “disguise their disobedience without welcoming any honest dialogue or feedback.”
The pope invited the faithful to an examination of conscience in light of the parable. “When I make a mistake, am I willing to repent and retrace my steps?” he asked. “Or do I pretend everything is okay and go through life wearing a mask, concerning myself only about appearing good and righteous?”
Speaking of the special focus on Mary during October, the pope urged the faithful to experience “the beauty of praying the rosary.”
“Together with Mary, let us contemplate the mysteries of Christ’s life and invoke her intercession for the needs of the Church and the world,” he said, highlighting in particular the need for peace, evangelization, and the Synod of Bishops.