“Children meet with the Pope”: French children tell the Dicastery of their synodal journey

A delegation of children from France's L'Action Catholique des Enfants and their chaperones visited the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life on the occasion of their meeting with the Holy Father


More than seven thousand children answered to the Holy Father's invitation to meet him at the Vatican on November 6, 2023, and filled the Paul VI Hall with their voices, songs and colorful posters. Having come from 84 countries around the world, there were also children from Palestine, Syria and Ukraine, countries where, in this moment, as the Pope said, there is "so much suffering". Action Catholique des Enfants (ACE) was present with a delegation of 27 children, ages 8 to 12, and their chaperones, from different cities of France such as Nantes, Lilles, Bordeaux, Châteauroux, Fameck and Strasbourg.

"Le Grand Débat": the synodal journey pursued by the children of ACE in France

On this occasion, ACE requested a meeting at the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life to give the children an opportunity to tell how they contributed to the synodal journey, to present a summary of their endeavors to representatives of the Roman Curia, and to receive feedback. "Le Grand Débat" is the name of this journey, which, from September 2022 to March 2023, gathered together 1,400 children from ACE "clubs" throughout France which resulted in them choosing their pastoral theme for the three-year period 2023-2025: «Cœurs connectés, tous reliés» (Hearts united, all united). Among the chaperones present there were the President, Thérèse Dubreil; the National Spiritual Assistant, Father Jean Bernard; and Agnès Willaume, a member of the national team.

Pope Francis relies on children to build up fraternity and peace

The Secretary, Dr. Gleison De Paula Souza, welcomed the children, reminding them how much Pope Francis relies on them to promote peace in their families and among their peers.

After listening to the children's presentations, the Undersecretary, Gabriella Gambino, complimented them on the beauty of their reflections and the importance of the points they highlighted, the same points that would probably resonate in the afternoon in the Paul VI Hall, so well in tune with the thoughts that the Holy Father has expressed on various occasions: the call of each person to build up fraternity, peace, to care for creation, and to love those around us with forgiveness.

The formation needed for welcoming vocations and walking together

Some mention was then made regarding the responsibility of adults in forming children and young people and proclaiming to them the importance of knowing how to listen and accept God's call in their lives. A call that may one day be to religious life or to family life, to marriage. Preparing children for the idea of marriage as a vocation, for a happy marriage, is the goal of the Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life, the Dicastery's document that was briefly presented as an educational and training tool even for the ACE educators.

With this meeting – concluded the Undersecretary - the Dicastery wanted to emphasize the Church's willingness and desire to stand alongside children and walk with them, with the hope that their enthusiasm and ability to welcome and listen to each other will be a constant reminder to adults.

09 November 2023
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