Pope Francis meets with around 250 young people taking part in Vatican summer camp

Remember to say ‘thank you’

 Remember to say ‘thank you’  ING-029
21 July 2023

Young people attending this year’s Vatican summer camp, which brings together children of Vatican employees, asked Pope Francis all sorts of questions during their meeting with him on Tuesday morning, 18 July, in the Paul vi Audience Hall.

Among the many questions, young Edoardo asked, “What message can we bring to our heroes: our parents”? Pope Francis replied by encouraging everyone to say “thank you” often to their mothers and fathers for their commitment in raising them.

Elena asked, “Who are the Pope’s superheroes”, to which the Pope, with emotion, replied, his “grandparents”, recalling their “wisdom” and why it is also “important to talk to them”.

Raffaele, the eldest of the three, asked the Pope, “How can we be heroes in the digital world”? Pope Francis responded by suggesting that we engage positively in this area but avoid becoming manipulated by it.

The three young “interviewers” asking the questions are taking part in the summer kids’ camp at the Vatican. They and the other children received a visit from the Bishop of Rome in a Paul vi Hall that was filled with toys of all shapes and sizes.

The Pope visited the children like a grandfather in the midst of his grandchildren, coincidentally, just a few days before Sunday’s celebration of World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly. He spoke with them with affection and tenderness.

Camp animators Giuditta and Giacomo told Pope Francis about the rich experience the summer camp has offered them.

They described the camp as “a precious experience for all the animators and assistant animators, because it offers the opportunity to grow together with these youngsters who give us so many smiles and hugs”.

They noted how this year’s camp drew inspiration from the Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti, saying it “acts as a compass in our journey that aims to help young people understand how important it is to create a fraternity among people, so that everyone feels recognised and respected simply as a brother or sister, thus rediscovering the power, value and beauty of fraternal relationships”.

The journey is one that emphasizes the importance of relationships and sharing “through the discovery of emotions and kind attitudes based on trust rather than fear of the other, on dialogue rather than confrontation, on free and good gestures rather than arrogance and selfishness”. A true synodality, a walking together. Some of the young people attending the Vatican summer camp will travel to Lisbon for the upcoming World Youth Day on 1-6 August.

Superhero is a word that was often repeated during the conversation. In the midst of one of the performances, some children on the yellow team offered Pope Francis drawings and a cardboard medallion with the word “hero” written on it. The Pontiff promptly put it around his neck.

At the end of the ceremony animator Sergio, along with young Federica and Giulia, gave the Pope a Camp backpack and t-shirt, in view of his departure for World Youth Day, “so that you can take us with you on this journey”, they told him.

After praying the Our Father with the young people, Pope Francis imparted his Apostolic Blessing and asked them to take it with them to their parents, grandparents and friends, while remembering always to pray for one another. (r.c.)

By Rosario Capomasi