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Fraternity is every child’s mother tongue

The “Children’s Table” was a joyful and spontaneous moment at the World Meeting on Human Fraternity. Children responded enthusiastically to the Pope on the definition of happiness, peace, and friendship, before the he signed the “Children’s Declaration on Fraternity.”

By Jean-Charles Putzolu

After the moderator of the “Future Generation” roundtable announced the entry of the “scientists” to the Holy Father, dozens of children crowned with laurels flooded the synod hall.

Each of them glued a green leaf to the branches of an old dry tree in the middle of the room to give it life again and thus revive hope.

All this happened under the smiling gaze of the Pope, who found himself quickly surrounded by all these children. A bit of patience was required before they were seated.

Once silence had been restored, Francis engaged in a game of question and answer, asking, “What does happiness mean?”

The bravest attempted to answer: “For me, it’s being all united, one family, God’s family,” said one; “peace,” said another.

“I love you, Pope Francis,” two children ventured.

Francis, increasingly amused, continued, “Where can happiness be bought?” “Happiness cannot be bought,” confidently exclaimed a young girl. “We can be happy if we are in contact with God,” replied another.

Seizing the opportunity, the Pope asked, “How can we get in touch with God?” “By praying,” the children chorused, “and by praying, we can find peace,” another young girl added.

The female voices dominated over the boys’, but all provided pertinent answers to the Successor of Peter’s questions.

Against war, they proposed unity, friendship, and sharing. At this point, it is useful to specify that they had worked on the subject by drafting, on behalf of the “children of the whole world,” the “Children’s Declaration on Fraternity” which Francis signed in front of them after they read it aloud.

The “Children’s Table” was part of the preparation for the upcoming World Children’s Day on May 25 and 26 in Rome. According to organizers, around 72,000 participants are expected.

Participants in the "Children's Table"

Participants in the “Children’s Table”

Children’s Declaration on Fraternity

The text of the declaration is two pages long, adopting the language and spontaneity of children. Here is a full translation:

“What does it really mean to live as brothers and sisters? First of all, to understand that we are like the roots of an ancient  tree: we embrace each other underground, without even realizing it, in a silent alliance of life, supporting each other against the storms of time.

And what would a tree be without its roots? The roots of our humanity sink into the fertile soil of solidarity, grow in the garden of encounter, flourish in the peace of creation, and require constant care, constant attention, and constant work in which we must all discover ourselves as attentive gardeners.

Our roots remind us that, despite the diversity of branches, we share the same life, the same dream, that of a world where love is the only fruit that can truly make us happy because, as the Argentine poet Bernardéz wrote, “what the tree has in bloom, lives from what it has buried.”

That is why we invite every adult and every child to plant seeds of hope, to make actions of tenderness sprout; let’s synchronize our hearts to the rhythm of the world because we are travelers on the same path, seekers of the same truth, we are one human family, and together we can build a planet where love knocks down all barriers and where fraternity is the mother tongue of all.

We truly believe in dreams: when we are children, we dream of a world where everyone, but really everyone, can have a place where we feel at home. A place where we can be ourselves, be seen, loved, welcomed, and supported.

We dream of a world where every child, everywhere, can live in peace, where it is possible to grow, study, play, be free, and happy.

A world where differences are not a reason for confrontation or war, but where they are accepted because everyone is different, and that makes the world more beautiful. A world where the weakest are supported, without being judged; where those who have the most difficulty keeping up are awaited and accompanied, and where those who are more advanced are ready to wait and help; where those with greater possibilities help those in difficulty.

But alone, we can’t achieve this!

It also depends on you: we want to see adults with positive and serene relationships, based on acceptance, inclusion, dialogue, respect, forgiveness, and solidarity.

We want to see that you are capable of free friendship, the kind that helps to climb the mountains of fear, sadness, difficulties, and loneliness.

Show us that sincere friendship allows us to overcome oppression, isolation, and the fear of feeling inadequate.

Show us that you are truly “brothersand sisters to everyone,” without distinction of birth, economic status, religious belief, education, or ethnic background. We are ready to be friends to everybody, everybody, everybody, as Jesus – the most special Friend – taught us.

Help us realize our dreams in a better world, where we have the opportunity to have a future, without the future gradually destroying all our dreams.

Let us walk together, with you, adults, who accompany us, on this path of peace and understanding, of fraternity and growth, of welcome and hope.

Only in this way, when together we have hands dirty with earth and hearts full of heaven, will we discover ourselves happy, will we discover ourselves truly human, brothers to all and guardians of our common home.”

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