VATICAN CITY CNS – Thousands of children from Italy and many others representing other parts of the world will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican Nov. 6 to express their hopes, dreams and questions.
"It will be a meeting to show the dream we all have: to go back to having the pure sentiments of children, because the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children," the Pope had said Oct. 1 when he announced the initiative called, "Let us learn from boys and girls."
"Children teach us about transparency in relationships, about spontaneously welcoming those who are strangers, and about respect for all of creation. Dear children, I too look forward to learning from all of you!" the Pope had said.
Cardinal José Tolentino Mendonça, prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, which is sponsoring the event, told reporters Oct. 17 that the Pope has repeatedly encouraged young people to use their courage to turn their dreams into reality.
The cardinal said that young children by nature have courage, enthusiasm and hope, which are the qualities so many adults need today.
"The conflicts and wars, which seem to have no end, require from all of us this courage, the courage to dream of peace and the strength to achieve harmony and fraternity," he said.
"We all have a duty to learn this courage from the children, this strength of spirit," he said.
Franciscan Father Enzo Fortunato, who is also involved in helping with the event, told reporters the children will have an opportunity to ask the Pope any question they want.
The Rome-based Community of Sant'Egidio is helping local school children attend the event, including immigrants and refugees. Its president, Marco Impagliazzo, said Pope Francis is offering an example to other adults to similarly take the time to listen to and guide young people.
"Pope Francis is that father who listens," he said, and who wants "to learn from them, welcome their requests for a good and human life, but at the same time wants to answer their questions without being afraid to tell them how they should live and grow.