CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 April 2017

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The Voice of the Child

In his letter to his brother bishops on the feast of the Holy Innocents, December 28, Pope Francis talked about the plight of many children in today’s world, urging pastors to listen to the cry of the children and to guard them from the new Herods of our time.

Hong Kong society provides a basic social security system which enables children to enjoy 12 years of free education and offers grassroots children a variety of support in the hope that all children can have the opportunity to study.

However, it is undeniable that in certain communities, children still live in relatively difficult circumstances.

Apart from material poverty, relational poverty faced by children and teenagers is worsening. Problems encountered by children and teenagers in Hong Kong are ever-changing. Ten or 20 years ago, students had time to develop their own interests outside of school hours. 

But today, they often have to rush to tutorial classes or things arranged by their parents. The packed daily schedule, coupled with regular homework and assessments, often make the student life busier than work life.

Under such stress, many seek refuge in the cyber world, which can offer what is not available from school and family. When they face family problems or setbacks in their studies, the cyber world can offer a sense of achievement that is unattainable in the real world.

But roaming cyber space, coupled with poor academic results often leads to more recriminatory responses from teachers and parents. This can prompt a moving away from their roots; family activities, Church, friends or clubs. It is a sad reflection of relational poverty?

Pope Francis encouraged his brother bishops to care about children. But how can we, as Catholics, respond to the spiritual needs of children and teenagers?

Children need to be encouraged  to set goals in life. They need an environment filled with a positive ethos and a warm, caring home. Children who grow up in the embrace of concerted care of both school and parents do not run away from problems, because they know that someone supports them.

In his exhortation, The Joy of Love, Pope Francis encouraged parents to “devote time to our children, speaking of important things with simplicity and concern, and finding healthy ways for them to spend their time,” so as to shield them from harm.

Of teenagers, he says we should inspire them to grow in responsible freedom and make decisions rationally and wisely.

 

In every society, within every family, there are the cries of children. We should listen carefully. Behind each voice of a child is God’s call to us. SE