By Lisa Zengarini
“Lord Jesus, look at these children, bless them and protect them. They are the victims of the arrogance of the adults.”
Pope Francis prayed these words for the thousands of Ukrainian children “who are living under the bombs, have nothing to eat, are forced to flee their homes, leaving everything behind.”
He was meeting in St. Peter’s Basilica with young people from a vocational school of Christian inspiration in Milan ahead of the General Audience on Wednesday.
Thousands of children under the bombs
The ongoing war ravaging Ukraine continues to be near to the Pope’s heart. Before his prayer, the Holy Father asked the students of the “La Zolla Institute“ to turn their thoughts “to the many boys, girls, who are facing war and who are suffering.”
In the General Audience that followed the meeting, Pope Francis further dwelt on the risk of the conflict in Ukraine degenerating in a nuclear war, in light of repeated threats made during the past three weeks.
He noted that this “apocalyptic” scenario leading to human self-extermination is taken more and more seriously by ordinary people across the world.
And he recalled that if some humans should survive an atomic catastrophe, on the ‘day after’, “they would have start from zero.”
Dialogue between generations
Before praying for children in Ukraine during his meeting with the teachers and students of the “La Zolla Institute” and their families, Pope Francis reflected on the importance of a close relationship between generations, and specifically between young people and their grandparents, in the context of his new cycle of Catechesis on old age and the Global Compact on Education.
The Pact was launched in 2019 to encourage change on a global scale, so that education may promote fraternity, peace, and justice.
“It is very important for young people and children to talk to their grandparents,” the Pope said, adding that it is also important “to build an educating community in which, together with teachers, parents can be protagonists of the cultural upbringing of their children.”
Sharing and welcoming to promote peace
He further called attention to two keywords: ‘sharing’ and ‘welcoming’, noting that both these attitudes are a precondition for peaceful relations also in the family and at school. Barriers and rejection always cause wars, he said.