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Pope Francis Celebrates 81st Birthday With Children and Pizza

Pope Meets Children Assisted by Santa Marta’s Pediatric Dispensary

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At 10:30 this morning, the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in Paul VI Hall, the children assisted by “Saint Martha’s” Paediatric Dispensary.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s impromptu greeting to the volunteers, the parents and all the children present.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Greeting
Good morning! Children’s joy . . . Children’s joy is a treasure — joyful children . . . And we must do everything we can so that they continue to be joyful, because joy is like good earth. A joyful soul is like a good earth, which makes life grow well, with good fruits. And that’s why this celebration is being held: the closeness of Christmas is always sought to gather us to hold this celebration for them.
Listen well. First thing: preserve children’s joy. Don’t sadden children. When children see that there are problems at home, that the parents quarrel, they suffer. Don’t sadden the children. They must always grow with joy. Are you joyful? [‘Yes!”] I don’t believe you: yes or no? [“Yes!”] Very good, this is joy.
The second thing, for children to grow well: make them talk with the grandparents – the two extremes of life, because the grandparents have memory, have roots, and it will be the grandparents that give roots to the children. Please, may they not be uprooted children, without the memory of a people, without the memory of the faith, without the memory of so many beautiful things that have made history, without the memory of values. And who will help children to do this? The grandparents. They must talk with the grandparents, with the elderly. Do you talk with your grandparents? [“Yes!”] Are you certain? [“Yes!”] To ask for a candy? [“No!”] No? Tell me . . . Sometimes, often the grandparent have gone, isn’t that so? However, there are other elderly persons that are as grandparents. Always talk with the elderly. I’ll ask you a question, answer carefully: are grandparents, the elderly , boring? [“No . . . Yes”] You . . . [“They give us a lot of gifts”] One is interested: they give us many gifts! They’re not boring; they are good. Tell me . . . [“They love us very much”]. They love us very much. May children learn to talk with the elderly, to talk with their grandparents.
And the third advice I give you: teach them to talk with God. May they learn to pray, to say what they feel in their heart.
It’s joy, to talk with the grandparents, with the elderly, and to talk with God. Agreed? Do all agree?” You also, do you agree? I wish you a good day, with much celebration. And eat the four meters of pizza: eat them well, which will do you good — make you grow. And go ahead! Thank you, thank you!
And now we all pray to Our Lady to give us her blessing: Hail Mary . . .
And pray for me!
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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