John Paul II Baptizes 20 Children in Sistine Chapel

Urges Parents and Godparents to Show the Faith

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2002 ( John Paul II today baptized 20 children and emphasized the parents´ responsibility in their children´s spiritual growth.

Looking at the babies — nine boys and 11 girls from Italy, Spain, the United States and France — the Pontiff asked the parents and godparents gathered in the Sistine Chapel how the children would be open to faith “if they do not receive good witness from the adults around them.”

On the day when the Church´s liturgy marked the Baptism of Jesus, the Holy Father added: “These children are especially in need of you, dear parents; they are also in need of you, dear godfathers and godmothers, to learn to know the true God, who is merciful love.”

“They will understand that God is faithfulness if they are able to recognize his reflection, although limited and fallible, especially in your loving presence,” the Pontiff said.

The babies´ cries made some of the Pope´s words inaudible. The Holy Father looked up with a smile and said: “When they hear the Pope speak, they believe that they too must give an answer.”

John Paul II also had final words for the parents and godparents: “Do not feel alone!”

He added: “May you be sustained, above all, by confidence in the guardian angels, to whom God has entrusted his singular message of love for each one of your children. Moreover, the entire Church, to which you have the grace to belong, is committed to helping you.”

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