End to Child Soldiers: That the scandal of child soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Since World War II international law has tried to protect children from military exploitation by declaring that having child soldiers constitutes a war crime. One would think that with such laws the world would become more civilized. But the scandalous reality is far different. There are more child soldiers today than at any other time in history.
One estimate puts the figure at 300,000 children in at least twenty countries, mostly in Africa. In the last fifteen years 10,000 children were kidnapped by the “Lord’s Resistance Army” in northern Uganda and forced to fight. Compared to adults, children are easier to manipulate, they don’t eat much, and do not have a highly developed sense of danger, thus making it easy to send them into the line of fire. Children are prized because they are “pure” and are sometimes believed to have magic powers that protect them.
Last August, Monsignor Simon Kassas, representing the Vatican at the United Nations, told the Security Council: “Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such violent brutality: children used as soldiers, suicide bombers, sex slaves, and disposable intelligence-gatherers in the most dangerous military operations. These crimes must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
This month we remember in a special way how the Son of God came to earth as a child. May the Prince of Peace inspire all people of good will to pray and work for the elimination of the scandal of child soldiers.
In what ways is the phenomenon of child soldiers a pro-life issue?
Mark 10: 13-16 Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”
Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.
Last spring, when Pope Francis received the Charlemagne Prize, he provocatively asked the European dignitaries who bestowed the honor: “What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom?” He said “that there is a growing impression that Europe is weary, aging, no longer fertile and vital, that the great ideals that inspired Europe seem to have lost their appeal.”
What ideals? Truth, beauty, and goodness. The dignity and value of every human life and a society that strives for the common good of all. In an address to the European Parliament, Pope Francis said these ideals are rooted in “openness to the transcendent—to God—which has always distinguished the peoples of Europe.”
He warned: “A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks slowly losing its soul and that ‘humanistic spirit’ which it still loves and defends.”
He concluded his speech with a challenge: “The time has come for us to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values and faith as well. A Europe which contemplates the heavens and pursues lofty ideals. A Europe which cares for, defends, and protects man, every man and woman.”
As Christianity was the source of Europe’s “lofty ideals” so it has an essential role to play in their revival. We join Pope Francis in praying that the people of Europe will be open to the joy and hope of the Gospel.
What elements of Jesus’ teaching that we find in the Gospels are the foundation of the humanistic spirit and lofty ideals that our world needs?
Acts 17: 22-31 Paul said, “God is not far from any one of us.”
Links for November 2016
Get the Facts and Get Involved:
Child Soldiers International: http://www.child-soldiers.org/
Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/topic/childrens-rights/child-soldiers
- SOS Children’s Villages: http://www.child-soldier.org/
- Pope Francis’ Speech to the European Parliament, November 25, 2014: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/november/documents/papa-francesco_20141125_strasburgo-parlamento-europeo.html
- Pope Francis Speech at his Acceptance of the Charlemagne Prize, May 6, 2016: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2016/may/documents/papa-francesco_20160506_premio-carlo-magno.html