Three paragraphs on children in today’s post, covering all of section 9.2, and starting with the gospel witness:
438. Childhood must today be the object of high-priority action on the part of the Church, the family, and government institutions, both because of the possibilities it offers and the vulnerability to which it is exposed. Children are gift and sign of God’s presence in our world by their ability to accept the gospel message with simplicity. Jesus chose them with special affection (cf. Mt 19:14), and presented their capacity for accepting the Gospel as a model for entering into the Kingdom of God (cf. Mk 10:14; Mt 18:3).
Given the marginalization of children in many ancient cultures, this was certainly a difficult concept for those of Jesus’ time. It remains a struggle for modern, so-called civilized people as well. It is part of the Lord’s call to compassion that his disciples attend to the most vulnerable:
439. We are pained to see the situation of poverty, domestic violence (especially in out-of-wedlock or broken families), sexual abuse, affecting a large number of our children: child labor, street children, children with HIV, orphans, child soldiers, boys and girls deceived and exposed to pornography and forced prostitution, both virtual and real. Early childhood (0 to 6 years) is especially in need of special attention and care. One cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of so many innocent children.
Schools have been a post-Tridentine tradition, and may of our more recent saints have been responsible for the extension of the reach of the Gospel here:
440. On the other hand, because it is the first stage of life of one who has been born, childhood constitutes a wonderful opportunity for handing on the faith. We are grateful to see the valuable action of so many institutions at the service of childhood.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.