Like a grandfather in the midst of his grandchildren, on the morning of 18 July 2023, Pope Francis welcomed around 250 young people from 5 to 13 years of age taking part in the 2023 summer camp initiative for children of Vatican employees. Amidst music and dance, the Pope spoke with the young people and animators offering words of encouragement.
The young people attending this year’s Vatican summer camp that brings together children of Vatican employees asked Pope Francis all types of questions during their meeting with him on Tuesday morning in the Paul VI Audience Hall. Edoardo, one of the children, asked, “what message can we bring to our heroes, our parents?” to which Pope Francis replied by encouraging everyone to say “thank you” often to their mothers and fathers for their commitment in raising them. Elena asked, “who are the Pope’s superheroes?” to which the Pope replied his “grandparents” recalling their “wisdom” and why it is also “important to talk to them.” Raphael, the eldest of the three, asked the Pope, “how can we be heroes in the digital world” and here the Pope suggested the we engage positively in this area but not become manipulated by it.
The three children asking the questions are taking part in the summer kids camp at the Vatican. The Pope visited with them like a grandfather in the midst of his grandchildren and, coincidentally, just a few days before Sunday’s celebration of the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly to which he has given great support.
Camp animators Giuditta and Giacomo told Pope Francis about the rich experience the summer camp has offered them, describing it as “a precious experience for all of animators and assistant animators, because it offers the opportunity to grow together with these youngsters who give us so many smiles.” They noted how they draw inspiration from the encyclical letter Fratelli tutti , “which acts as a compass in our journey that aims to help the young people understand how important it is to create a fraternity among people, so that everyone feels recognised and respected simply as a brother or sister, rediscovering the power, value and beauty of fraternal relationships.” The journey is one that emphasises the importance of relationships and sharing “through the discovery of emotions and kind attitudes based on trust rather than fear of the other, on dialogue rather than confrontation, on free and good gestures rather than arrogance and selfishness.”
Some of these young people will be travelling to Lisbon for the forthcoming World Youth Day in early August. Following the recitation of the Our Father together, Pope Francis imparted his apostolic blessing to those present, asking them to take it with them to their parents, grandparents and friends, while remembering always to pray for one another. Finally he posed for a group photograph together with the participants.