On this, Anti-Bullying Week, it’s good to remember the words delivered recently by Pope Francis…
In a meeting with confirmation candidates and confirmed young people as part of his one-day pastoral visit to Milan, Pope Francis issued a harsh criticism of bullying in schools, asking youth to promise him and Jesus never to bully others, and telling teachers to be aware of the problem.
He responded to a question posed by a catechist asking how to foster an open dialogue between educators, students, and their parents. Among other points, he told teachers to watch out for bullying before addressing the youth about it themselves.
“I ask you, in silence: In your schools, in your neighbourhoods, is there someone that you mock? That you make fun of because they look a little funny, because they are a little fat? That you like to embarrass and hit because of this?” the pope asked.
“Think about this. This is called bullying,” he said, and asked the youth to use their Confirmation to “make the promise to the Lord to never do this” and to pray that it doesn’t happen in their schools, neighbourhoods, or parishes.
“Promise me: never, never make fun of, never mock a friend, a neighbour, etc. Do you promise this?” he said. Not satisfied with the strength of their answer, he again asked the youth the same question, which was then met with a roaring “YES!”
“Think in silence if you do this and if you are able to promise this to Jesus. Promise Jesus never to bully.”
Pupils at St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Hertford in the Archdiocese of Westminster became Mission Together children for the first time this year. Inspired by a talk at her local parish church about the work of missionaries, their teacher, Mrs Landers, encouraged the children to become mini missionaries by praying for children living in poverty overseas and by putting coins into their little red boxes.
Sheila Isaac from Missio, explained to the children that their actions are special because they are helping Pope Francis’ own children’s charity for overseas mission. Not only that, they are following in the footsteps of St Thérèse of Lisieux, who was a member of Mission Together (then known as Holy Childhood) when she was a little girl. This news was especially exciting for the children in Year 2, whose classroom is named after St Thérèse, patroness of the missions. Well done St Joseph’s, you have become ‘children helping children’.
Read more about St Thérèse links with Mission Together here.