Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address to a representation of youngsters of Italian Catholic Action (A.C.R.) this morning in the Vatican:
Dear Young [Members of A.C.R],
It is always lovely for me to meet with you, to exchange greetings as Christmas approaches. Thank you for the cake! I welcome you affectionately and, through you, I wish to send my greeting and best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to all those that are part of the young people’s Catholic Action or, as you prefer to call it, the A.C.R.
Many are the children and youngsters that, thanks to your association, have the possibility to know Jesus more closely, and they are helped to live the Gospel in the family, at school, in the parish and in sport. By taking part in A.C.R. they feel more involved in the Church; they feel that Jesus is not far away but close, in our midst, and this gives so much joy! And thus you participate better in the catechisnm and at Mass, you learn to read and follow the Gospel and, little by little, you also become missionaries, that is, capable of bringing Jesus to others.
I heard that this year the motto of your formative journey is “Journeying towards You.”
In this connection, the initiative of charity you carry out with God’s help, in favor of migrants in the diocese of Agrigento, is very good. May the Lord bless this project, which will give a hand to that community committed in an exemplary way in the reception of so many brothers and sisters who arrive full of hope but also of many wounds and needs, in search of peace and of bread. Yesterday in the Audience, a colored child was presented to me by his parents, a child who must be five months old, and they said to me: “He was born on the boat off the coast of Sicily.” So many, so many … so many children succeed in arriving, others do not. And all that you do for these people is good, thank you for doing it. You can give a special contribution to this initiative, with your enthusiasm and your prayer, which I suggest that you accompany with some self-denial, to share what is necessary with other youngsters who are deprived of it. In connection with self-denial, I would like to ask a question — but you, youngsters, answer — not the grownups. If you have two candies and you have your friend beside you who doesn’t have one, what do you do? What do you do? [A child answered: “I give him one”]. You give it to him. And if you have one candy and he has nothing, what do you do? [A child answered: “I give him half!” Half! OK Go on this way.
I see that “important” leaders of Italian Catholic Action are accompanying you. I greet them cordially and thank them for the commitment with which they dedicate themselves to your Christian education.
I wish you all from my heart a happy and holy Christmas. I extend this wish to your families and to the whole of Catholic Action, in all the dioceses of Italy. May the Lord bless you and Our ady protect you. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Now we will all pray together to Our Lady. Hail Mary …[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]