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Every homeless child is ‘a cry rising up to God’, says Francis

A homeless child sits in front of a closed shop in Gauhati, Assam state, India (AP)

It’s a disgrace that children live on the streets and young girls and women are forced into prostitution, especially in societies that claim to be highly developed and cultured, Pope Francis has said.

“Every child abandoned or forced to live on the streets, at the mercy of criminal organisations, is a cry rising up to God,” he said.

It is a cry of accusation “against a social system that we have criticised for decades but that we struggle to change,” he said in an audience with participants of an international symposium on the pastoral care of people on the street. The symposium was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travellers.

“It is troubling to see the increasing number of young girls and women forced to earn a living on the street by selling their own bodies, victims of exploitation by criminal organisations and at times by parents and family members,” he said.

Such a situation “is a disgrace in our societies, which boast of being modern and having achieved high levels of culture and development,” he added.

The Pope said Christians must be involved in helping innocent people forced onto the streets by safeguarding their dignity and bringing “the goodness and the tenderness of God” to them.