“Christians are called to protect children both in society and within their own communities,” said Patriarch Bartholomew.
Protecting children from any kind of violence has always been and should remain an essential message of Christianity, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has told a gathering at the World Council of Churches (WCC) for World Children’s Day.
The World Council of Churches is an ecumenical partner supported by the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportionment, which enables United Methodists to share a presence and a voice in the activities of several national and worldwide ecumenical organizations.
The patriarch was the keynote speaker at an event involving the WCC and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in November for World Children’s Day in Geneva, a gathering in which young people had a key input.
“It is important to bear in mind that children do not only represent our future but that they are in fact the present upon which the future is being built,” said Patriarch Bartholomew.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople said his church was one of the founding members of the WCC and the council’s general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, welcoming Bartholomew, noted that in his 2016 Christmas message, he appealed to all the faithful around the word “to respect the identity and sacredness of childhood”.
The patriarch called for inter-generational justice and support to children on the move as spiritual responsibility in his message from the Orthodox Church noting a “surrender of culture to technology” in the world.
“Christians are called to protect children both in society and within their own communities,” said Bartholomew, and that he was “particularly pleased” with the collaboration established between UNICEF and the WCC on the Churches’ Commitments to Children.
He urged the churches to “undertake initiatives that promote the protection of the environment and subsequently, our children”.
Both the Ecumenical Patriarch and the WCC general secretary signed a petition for renewed commitments to child rights.
“This is the most ratified UN convention and brings together the best interests of the child and is core to the dignity, along with the right education,” said Cori.
He said, “Half of the world is children and half of the refugees of the world are children and when they are on the move they are trafficked,” many of them fleeing their countries due to violence, climate change, famine and droughts.
Bartholomew noted current challenges facing children include sectors of technology and communication with the computer and the internet dominating every aspect of individual and social life.
“Some of the consequences of this change include the so-called ‘disappearance of childhood’, the loss of the innocence of children and an early induction into adulthood,” he said.
Antonia Antonopoulos, head of Civil Society Partnerships at UNICEF, speaking on moving the Churches Commitments to Children’s agenda forward said, “We can always count on the commitment of the WCC when we need it.
She praised, the “powerful and very real testimonies from children today”.
World Council of Churches website
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