One must follow the good path of forgiveness, peace and solidarity to reach Christ, Pope Francis told schoolchildren as they wished him a happy birthday.
Francis told hundreds of members of Catholic Action’s children’s section to avoid war and vengeance.
The parish-based groups of young people, aged from 4 to 14 years of age, have spent the year on various projects that aided migrants in the Italian diocese of Agrigento
Upon the pope’s arrival, the children sang “Happy Birthday” and presented him with a cake for his 79th birthday yesterday during his traditional pre-Christmas audience with them.
The pope blessed and thanked the youth for their work with migrants, saying that they welcome in an exemplary way “so many brothers and sisters who arrive full of hope, but are also wounded and in desperate need of so much, including peace and bread.”
“You can offer a special contribution to this initiative with your enthusiasm and prayer, which I advise you to accompany with a small sacrifice, to share their essentials with others who do not have them,” he said.
Departing from his prepared speech, the pope asked the youth what would they do if they had two candies and their friend had none. “I’ll give him one,” a child responded.
“And if you have one candy and your friend has none, what do you do?” he asked. “Half!” another child exclaimed.
“Yes, half. Very good! Go forward this way,” the pope said.
After thanking the leaders of Catholic Action’s Italian branch, Pope Francis led the group in praying the “Hail Mary” and thanked them for their “commitment and dedication to Christian education.”
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