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Dear Children,

On the occasion of my Apostolic Visit to Austria, I am happy to be able to speak in particular to you who are actively involved in the projects of the Pontifical Missionary Childhood Society.

I thank you warmly for your little letters and for the drawings you have desired to give me as signs of your affection and your closeness to my mission. They express those sentiments of faith and love for which Jesus loved little ones and welcomed them with open arms, pointing them out to his disciples, for instance saying, "to such belongs the kingdom of God" (Mk 10: 14).

I would like to tell you that I deeply appreciate your commitment in the Missionary Childhood. I see you as small collaborators in the Pope's service to the Church and to the world: you support me with your prayers and also with your work to spread the Gospel.

Indeed, there are a great many children who do not yet know Jesus. And unfortunately, there are just as many who lack what they need to live: food, health care, education; many are deprived of peace and serenity. The Church pays special attention to them, especially through missionaries; and you too are called to make your contribution, both personally and as a group.

Friendship with Jesus is such a beautiful gift that it cannot be kept for oneself! Those who receive this gift feel the need to pass it on to others, and so when the gift is shared it is not reduced but rather is multiplied!

Persevere on this path! You are growing up and will soon become adolescents and young people: do not lose your missionary spirit! Keep a faith that is always clear and genuine, like St Peter's.

Dear little friends, I entrust you all to Our Lady's protection. I pray for you, your parents and your brothers and sisters. I pray for your missionary groups and your teachers, and to you all I warmly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Castel Gandolfo, 3 September 2007



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