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Woe to him who suffocates hope in children

· At the General Audience Pope Francis appeals against the exploitation of minors ·

And to faithful he recalls that love is the law of the People of God

Woe to him who suffocates hope  in children. On the World Day Against Child Labour, Pope Francis launched a stern warning to those who “instead of letting them play” make “slaves” of little ones. At the end of the General Audience on Wednesday 12 June, in a St Peter's Square filled with faithful despite the heat, the Pontiff denounced the “deplorable phenomenon” of the exploitation of minors  in domestic work – a situation that is growing in poor countries – recalling that “ millions, mostly girls”, are “victims of this hidden form of exploitation that often entails abuse as well, mistreatment and discrimination”. If is, he said adding words to his prepared text, “a real slavery”. He hopes that the international community may initiate “more effective measures” to fight the terrible plight.

Before this appeal, the Pontiff offered a reflection on the subject of the Church as the People of God, singling out in love the “law” by which all people are acknowledged as members. It is a love that, however – he set forward - “is not sterile sentimentality or something vague”, but “the acknowledgement of God  as the one Lord of life and, at the same time, the acceptance of the other as our true brother, overcoming divisions, rivalries, misunderstandings, selfishness”.

In fact, “the two things go together”. And this can be seen in the many “wars” that are even “between Christians. Within the people of God,” noted the Holy Father, “there are so many wars! In neighbourhoods, in the workplace, so many wars.... out of envy, jealousy! Even in the family itself, so many internal wars”. For this he asked the faithful to pray “for those with whom they are angry”. And in a kind of improvised dialogue with the piazza, which responded as one to his invitations, Pope Francis spoke of the presence of evil in the world: “the Devil,” he said, “is acting. But I would like to say out loud: God is stronger! Do you believe that God is stronger? Let us say it together, let us say it all together: God is stronger. And do you know why he is stronger? Because he is the Lord, the one Lord”.

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St. Peter’s Square

Aug. 25, 2019

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