Letter of Pope John Paul II to children in the Year of the Family

December 14, 2023 at 9:29 a.m.
A bronze statue of St. Teresa of Kolkata, cradling a child, is pictured in a file photo overlooking a garden at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park, N.Y. The statue was donated by the Knights of Columbus. OSV News photo/CNS file, Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic
A bronze statue of St. Teresa of Kolkata, cradling a child, is pictured in a file photo overlooking a garden at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park, N.Y. The statue was donated by the Knights of Columbus. OSV News photo/CNS file, Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic (Gregory A. Shemitz)

Pope John Paul II

Christmas is the feast day of a Child, of a Newborn Baby. So it is your feast day too! You wait impatiently for it and get ready for it with joy, counting the days and even the hours to the Holy Night of Bethlehem.

Dear friends! In what happened to the Child of Bethlehem you can recognize what happens to children throughout the world. It is true that a child represents the joy not only of its parents but also the joy of the Church and the whole of society. But it is also true that in our days, unfortunately, many children in different parts of the world are suffering and being threatened: they are hungry and poor, they are dying from diseases and malnutrition, they are the victims of war, they are abandoned by their parents and condemned to remain without a home, without the warmth of a family of their own, they suffer many forms of violence and arrogance from grown-ups. How can we not care, when we see the suffering of so many children, especially when this suffering is in some way caused by grown-ups?

God loves you, dear children! This is what I want to tell you at the end of the Year of the Family and on the occasion of these Christmas feast days, which in a special way are your feast days.

I hope that they will be joyful and peaceful for you; I hope that during them you will have a more intense experience of the love of your parents, of your brothers and sisters, and of the other members of your family. This love must then spread to your whole community, even to the whole world, precisely through you, dear children. Love will then be able to reach those who are most in need of it, especially the suffering and the abandoned. What joy is greater than the joy brought by love? What joy is greater than the joy which you, O Jesus, bring at Christmas to people’s hearts, and especially to the hearts of children?

Raise your tiny hand, Divine Child, and bless these young friends of yours, bless the children of all the earth.

From the Vatican, Dec. 13, 1994.


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Christmas is the feast day of a Child, of a Newborn Baby. So it is your feast day too! You wait impatiently for it and get ready for it with joy, counting the days and even the hours to the Holy Night of Bethlehem.

Dear friends! In what happened to the Child of Bethlehem you can recognize what happens to children throughout the world. It is true that a child represents the joy not only of its parents but also the joy of the Church and the whole of society. But it is also true that in our days, unfortunately, many children in different parts of the world are suffering and being threatened: they are hungry and poor, they are dying from diseases and malnutrition, they are the victims of war, they are abandoned by their parents and condemned to remain without a home, without the warmth of a family of their own, they suffer many forms of violence and arrogance from grown-ups. How can we not care, when we see the suffering of so many children, especially when this suffering is in some way caused by grown-ups?

God loves you, dear children! This is what I want to tell you at the end of the Year of the Family and on the occasion of these Christmas feast days, which in a special way are your feast days.

I hope that they will be joyful and peaceful for you; I hope that during them you will have a more intense experience of the love of your parents, of your brothers and sisters, and of the other members of your family. This love must then spread to your whole community, even to the whole world, precisely through you, dear children. Love will then be able to reach those who are most in need of it, especially the suffering and the abandoned. What joy is greater than the joy brought by love? What joy is greater than the joy which you, O Jesus, bring at Christmas to people’s hearts, and especially to the hearts of children?

Raise your tiny hand, Divine Child, and bless these young friends of yours, bless the children of all the earth.

From the Vatican, Dec. 13, 1994.

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