Plea for the World's Children

On Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2004 ( Here is a translation of John Paul II’s address at today’s general audience, in which he highlighted the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and appealed for the defense of children. After his address, the Prayer of the Faithful was recited for peace and solidarity.

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1. The liturgy recalls today the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast, much cherished by popular piety, leads us to admire in the child Mary the most pure dawn of Redemption. We contemplate a child like all others, but at the same time unique, the «blessed among women» (Luke 1:42). Mary is the immaculate «daughter of Zion,» destined to become the Mother of the Messiah.

2. In contemplating the child Mary, how can one not think of the many defenseless little ones of Beslan, in Ossetia, victims of a barbarous kidnapping and tragic massacre. They were inside a school, the place where one learns the values that give meaning to history, culture, and peoples’ civilization: reciprocal respect, solidarity, justice and peace. Behind those walls, instead, they experienced outrage, hatred and death, evil consequences of a cruel fanaticism and an insane contempt for the human person.

We now look upon all those innocent children who, in every part of the world, are victims of the violence of adults. Children constrained to take up arms and educated to hate and kill; children induced to beg on the streets, exploited for easy earnings; children mistreated and humiliated by the arrogance and abuse of grown-ups; children abandoned to themselves, deprived of the warmth of a family and of prospects for the future; children who die of hunger, children killed in so many conflicts in various regions of the world.

3. It is the loud cry of pain of children offended in their dignity. It cannot, must not leave anyone indifferent. Dear brothers and sisters, before the cradle of the child Mary let us renew our awareness of the duty we all have to watch over and defend these fragile creatures and to build a future of peace for them. Let us pray together so that conditions will be created for them for a serene and secure life.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s audience. I greet particularly the groups from England, Ireland, Denmark, Japan, Canada, Singapore and the United States of America. I wish you a pleasant stay in Rome and I cordially invoke upon all of you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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