First World Children’s Day ‘a chance to hear voice of world’s future’

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The first World Children’s Day will be held on 25-26 May 2024, and will involve the participation of Pope Francis and children from all over the world at an event in Rome.

The recently-instituted World Children’s Day, organized by the Dicastery for Culture and Education, was presented a press conference at the Holy See Press Office on Friday.

Among those speaking were Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, {refect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education; Fr. Enzo Fortunato, coordinator of World Children’s Day and communications spokesperson of St. Peter’s Basilica; and, Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Sant’Egidio Community.

Website to contain all logistical details

The Director of the Holy See Press, Matteo Bruni, introduced the guests and highlighted Pope Francis’ desire to set up a day in the Church dedicated to children.

He announced that more information on World Children’s Day is available on the official website, launched on Friday, along with information on how to register to attend the event in Rome and details related to lodging, transportation, and other logistical details.

Cardinal Mendonça: Day celebrated in Rome and local Dioceses

Cardinal Mendonça said Pope Francis “on December 8, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when he announced this Day.”

The Cardinal recalled the joy of the Holy Father’s encounter with thousands of children, where he candidly responded to their questions in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on November 6.

The Cardinal Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education said celebrations of World Children’s Day would likely become a regular event.

The first event will be held on two levels, Cardinal Mendonça said, in Rome and universally at the diocesan level.

“An event like this offers children the possibility to become protagonists through moments of prayer, friendship, and formation.”

The Pope, he said, desires to listen and encounter children.

Fr. Fortunato: Three journeys leading toward the Day

Meanwhile, Fr. Enzo Fortunato, the coordinator of World Children’s Day and communications spokesperson of St. Peter’s Basilica, thanked Pope Francis for his encouragement.

He acknowledged that, while it is early to explain all the specifics of the day, various preparations are underway.

The Pope, he affirmed, will be present and involved throughout the encounter.

For example, he noted the offering of “three journeys,” leading up to the event, in the realms of “spirituality, solidarity, and culture.”

The logo and website were also unveiled at the press conference.

The logo was envisioned and created in January 2024 by Marco Capasso and Studio Creativo, and it depicts the hands of the little ones embraced by the Church.

Marco Impagliazzo: Children are the future of humanity

Marco Impagliazzo expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis for calling for the first World Children’s Day within the Catholic Church.

“At a time of war and a lack of concern for the environment, there is a need to give the young generation a voice, as the successful meeting in the Paul VI Hall with Pope Francis and thousands of children from all over the world on November 6 last year shows,” he said. “We need to listen to the children because their voice is a convinced and explicit ‘no’ to war and the destruction of nature.”

He said the Sant’Egidio Community in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia are preparing for the Day with their Schools of Peace, saying they hope to make it “an occasion to put children, who are the present and the future of humanity, back at the centre of the world’s attention.”

World Children’s Day, Mr. Impagliazzo underscored, will offer children an opportunity to encounter Jesus and will encourage their ability to dream.

Sant’Egidio, he explained, will enable many children from the peripheries and the most difficult areas to partake in the Day.

Mr. Impagliazzo shared that refugee children from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and some passing through Libya will hopefully also be present at the celebration in Rome. Others are expected from Haiti, Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, South Sudan, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Colombia.

He also noted that children from other religions are expected to attend.