2011-12-03 Vatican RadioIn his weekly editorial, Father Federico Lombardi recalls Pope Benedict's concern for the plight of children throughout the world, expressed during the Holy Father's recent Apostolic Voyage to Benin. Lombardi speaks about the tremendous work of the Church on behalf of children, and notes especially the efforts of women in this field. What will become of this child? “What will become of this child?” The Gospel relates that this is the question on the lips of friends and relatives at the birth of the young John, who will be known as the Baptist. It is also the question that we all ask when we contemplate the wonder of a child coming into the world. And in that question there is hope, but also a certain concern. It is the question we asked at the Pope’s meeting with children two weeks ago – certainly the most wonderful and moving moment of the entire visit to Benin – with the elderly Pontiff surrounded by delightful little children dancing and holding his hand. The synodal document brought to Africa by the Pope enumerates, in a striking passage, some of the “intolerable treatment inflicted on so many children”: “children killed before birth, unwanted children, orphans, albinos, street children, abandoned children, child soldiers, child prisoners, children forced into labour, children ill-treated on account of physical or mental handicap, children said to be witches or warlocks, children sold as sex slaves, traumatized children without any future prospects…” The Church knows she must work for all of these children. Of the more than 125,000 health institutions and charities headed by the Church in the world, over 20,000 are specifically dedicated to children; many others are dedicated to education, or to the rescue of children from a life on the streets or other difficulties. On the occasion of a recent international conference on the protection of children from sexual abuse, the intervention of Monsignor Scicluna – with its “Decalogue” of clear and firm principles on how to protect children – was well received. And it is fair to remember the valuable and generous efforts of so many women, religious and lay, in this field. This is certainly one of the most wonderful – and beneficial – ways in which women serve humanity and the Church. In this time of Advent and Christmas, which is especially the Christ child, these are spontaneous reflections: we have every reason to continue to be in the front line on these frontiers.