Pope Francis says "The protection of minors is ever more concretely an ordinary priority in the educational action of the Church..." to Conference for Safeguarding of Children




[Rome, November 4, 2021]


Dear brothers and sisters!

I address my greeting to all of you who participate - in presence and remotely - in the Conference "Promoting  child safeguarding  at the time of Covid-19 and beyond", organized by the Pope John XXIII Community with the Italian Catholic Action and the Italian Sports Center, in collaboration with the Center for Victimology and Safety of the University of Bologna. I greet with gratitude the representatives of the European and Italian Parliament and of other institutions, in particular the Postal Police.

As I said in the  Letter to the People of God  (20 August 2018), "looking to the future, everything that is done to give life to a culture capable of preventing such situations not only from happening again, but not find space to be covered and perpetuated ». Today you find yourselves reflecting together and reaping the fruits of two years of listening, research and training. This work started "from below", as an expression of the active participation of the people of God in the journey of personal and community conversion. A journey that as a Church we are called to undertake all together, urged by pain and shame for not always having been good guardians protecting the minors who were entrusted to us in our educational and social activities.

This process of conversion urgently requires a renewed formation of all those who have educational responsibilities and work in environments with minors, in the Church, in society, in the family. Only in this way, with a systematic action of preventive alliance, will it be possible to eradicate the culture of death of which every form of abuse, sexual, of conscience, of power is the bearer.

If the abuse is an act of betrayal of trust, which condemns to death those who suffer it and generates deep cracks in the context in which it occurs, prevention must be a permanent path to promote an ever-renewed and certain reliability towards life and the future, on which minors must be able to count. And this we, as adults, are called to guarantee them, rediscovering the vocation of "artisans of education" and striving to be faithful to it. This means encouraging the expression of the talents of those we accompany; respect the times, freedom and dignity; oppose by all means the temptations to seduce and induce, which only apparently can facilitate relationships with the younger generations.

I look with trust and hope, in particular, to the many young people who have been formed in this your Project. It is especially they who ask us for a decisive step of renewal in the face of the wounds of the abuses found in their peers. I am reminded of the expression of  St. Paul VI : "young apostles of the young" (cf. Apostolic Exhortation  Evangelii nuntiandi, 72), and I think that it can also be implemented in this sense, as a fraternal and supportive closeness. The contribution of young people, then, will be precious in recognizing situations at risk and in courageously recalling the whole community to its responsibility in safeguarding minors, to review the way of relating with the younger generations, so that they can return to ensuring their beauty. to meet, talk, play and dream.

To the adults who have shared this path with young people, I wish they will continue to be credible, that is, responsible in their care and consistent in their witness. May they be promoters and custodians of a renewed educational alliance between generations and between the different contexts of growth of minors, capable of stimulating a generative and protective connection between them, especially in this complex time of pandemic.

Finally, as lay associations, I urge you to persevere in this action of formation to co-responsibility, dialogue and transparency. The protection of minors is ever more concretely an ordinary priority in the educational action of the Church; is the promotion of an open, reliable and authoritative service, in firm contrast to any form of domination, disfigurement of intimacy and complicit silence.

Dear brothers and sisters, I wish you a fruitful conference, which will be a solid basis for continuing together in the service of children and young people, families and the entire ecclesial and civil community. I assure you of my prayers and I bless you from my heart.

Rome, San Giovanni in Laterano, 21 October 2021


Pope Francis