December 28. Holy Innocents. The Adams family held some in-depth and challenging discussion about their own family and the other families in their immediate community.  Mrs Adams as a catechist felt both affirmed and challenged and Stacey was happy that she had decided to become involved in youth ministry.  

A War on Children. In the literature about St Francis there appears to be little focus on children per se, although of course children are always present among the poor.  Historically children held no very important place in society and the much stronger focus on children’s rights is a fairly recent and very important societal growth matter. At the same time, while children’s rights capture much attention today it could still be said that there is a war on children.

The gospel of the feast of the Holy Innocents as told by Matthew chapter 2 tells of the threat to murder baby boys in Bethlehem by King Herod, who feared that a new king would usurp his throne.  This story can be linked too to the story of Moses, where baby boys were killed by the Pharaoh to reduce the Israelite slave population in Egypt. 

Today a different war on children exists. Abortion is a major and tragic war on unborn children in almost every country and a moral issue for Catholics too. Violence in many forms against children happens where there is poverty, child trafficking and child labour.  Physical and sexual abuse happens in families, society and the Church all across the world. Bullying of children by other children is a serious matter too. Poor socialization, due to breakdown in what was previously the structural norm in families, has resulted in gangsterism, substance abuse and general dysfunctionality and violence amongst youth. Children are the most vulnerable sector of society and therefore require the greatest protection. Legislation and Children’s Rights conventions exist but this is not the government’s task alone, unless families who form the basis of society perform their task with the love that is uniquely theirs, the war on children will continue and worsen.

Then  Herod when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men was in a furious rage and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old and under. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “a voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation. Rachel weeping for her children, she refused to be consoled because they were no more.”   Mat 2: 16-18,  Pope Francis: Children once born, begin to receive, along with nourishment and care the spiritual gift of knowing with certainty that they are loved. This is shown to them through the language and looks of love, which contains a spark of God’s love. AL172   Violence within families breeds new forms of social aggression. This is the case with families where communication is lacking, defensive attitudes predominate, and relationships are marked by hostility.  Violence within the family is a breeding-ground of resentment and hatred in the most basic human relationships. AL51.  

Reflection and Sharing:  what role does our family play in this war on children?