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Pope Francis shakes hands and greets a group of children after Mass in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican yesterday, wrapping up the first World Children’s Day (CNS/Vatican Media)

To change the world, children must “press ahead and be joyful”, ask why there is injustice and always help others, Pope Francis told thousands of children gathered in Rome for the Church’s first-ever World Children’s Day. Source: CNS.

“We are gathered here at the Olympic Stadium, to ‘kick-off’ the movement of boys and girls who want to build a world of peace, where we are all brothers and sisters, a world that has a future because we want to take care of the environment around us,” Pope Francis said on Saturday. 

About 50,000 people gathered in the stadium in Rome for a day of music, dance and even a brief friendly soccer match between two teams made up of kids and retired Italian soccer champions. 

Pope Francis established the day, which included Mass in St Peter’s Square yesterday, after holding a smaller encounter at the Vatican in November 2023 with some 7,500 children from 84 countries dedicated to learning from young children and listening to their questions about the future.

That event “brought a wave of joy” and “left a lasting impression in my heart,” he told the kids and those accompanying them in the stadium. He said he wanted that conversation to continue and expand to reach more children and young people, and “that is why we are here today: to keep the dialogue going, to ask questions and seek answers together”. 

“Dear children, let us press ahead and be joyful. Joy is healthy for the soul,” he said, quizzing them to make sure they knew that Jesus loved them, and the devil did not.

Between musical sets, children from different parts of the world asked the Pope questions, such as what can children do to make the world a better place. Speak nicely, play together and help others, the Pope replied.


Pope tells children joy is good for the soul, always help others (By Carol Glatz, CNS)  


Pope Francis meets with 50,000 for World Children’s Day in Rome’s Olympic Stadium (CNA)

Roberto Benigni at World Children’s Day: ‘Open your eyes and dream’ (Vatican News)