Pope Francis meets with children

By Rosario Capomasi

Jul 20 2023

Pope Francis meets with around 250 young people from 5 to 13 years of age taking part in the 2023 summer camp initiative for children of Vatican employees, and offers words of encouragement to the young people and camp animators.

The 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 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?” and the Pope replied his “grandparents”, recalling their “wisdom” and why it is also “important to talk to them.”

Raphael, 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.

Grandfather figure

The three children asking the questions are taking part in the summer kids camp at the Vatican.

The Pope visited with them like a grandfather in the midst of his grandchildren and, coincidentally, just a few days before Sunday’s celebration of the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly to which he has given great support. 

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 of animators and assistant animators, because it offers the opportunity to grow together with these youngsters who give us so many smiles.”

They noted how they draw inspiration from the encyclical letter Fratelli tutti, saying it “acts as a compass in our journey that aims to help the 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, 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.”

Preparations for WYD

Some of the young people attending the Vatican summer camp will travel to Lisbon for the upcoming World Youth Day on 1-6 August.

After reciting 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.

Finally, the Pope posed for a group photograph together with the participants. – Vatican News