I am pleased to meet you, representatives of the “Meter” Association, which
since 1989 — when few spoke of this scourge — has been engaged in the fight
against paedophilia in Italy and in other countries. I greet and thank Bishop
Antonio Staglianò and Fr Fortunato Di Noto, who founded this important
organization. And I greet and thank Cardinal Paolo Lojudice, and those who in
various ways support the Association, for the protection and defence of abused
and mistreated children.
Throughout these years, with your generous work, you have contributed to
making visible the Church’s love for the smallest and most helpless. How often,
like the Good Samaritan of the Gospel, you have drawn near with respect and
compassion to welcome, console and protect! Closeness, compassion and
tenderness: it is the style of God. How many spiritual wounds you have bound!
The ecclesial community is grateful to you for all this.
We can compare your Association to a home. When we say “home”, we think of a
place of welcome, of shelter, of safekeeping. The word “home” has a typically
familial flavour that evokes the warmth, affection, and tenderness that can be
experienced precisely in a family, especially in moments of anguish and pain.
And you have been and are a “home” for many children whose innocence has
been violated or who have been enslaved by the selfishness of adults. You have
been and are a house of hope, fostering in many victims a path of liberation and
redemption. I therefore encourage you to continue in this worthy social and
human activity, continuing to offer your valuable contribution at the service of
the protection of childhood.
Your work is more necessary than ever since, unfortunately, the abuse of
children continues. I am referring in particular to the solicitation that takes place
through the internet and the various social media, with pages and portals
dedicated to child pornography. This is a scourge that, on the one hand, needs to
be tackled with renewed determination by public institutions and authorities,
and on the other, requires an even greater awareness on the part of families and
the various educational agencies. Even today we see how often in families the
first reaction is to cover everything up; a first reaction that is still present in
other institutions, and in the Church too. We must fight against this old habit of
covering up. I know that you are always vigilant in protecting children even in
the context of the most modern means of communication.
Child abuse is a kind of “psychological murder” and in many cases an erasure of
childhood. Therefore, the protection of children against sexual exploitation is a
duty of all States, who are called to identify both traffickers and abusers. At the
same time, it is all the more a duty to denounce and prevent child abuse in the
various spheres of society: school, sports, recreational and cultural institutions,
religious communities and individuals. In addition, in the field of the protection
of minors and in the fight against paedophilia, specific interventions must be
organized to provide effective assistance to victims.
On all these fronts, the Meter Association actively cooperates with institutional
bodies and with various sectors of civil society, also through appropriate
memoranda of understanding. Continue your work without hesitation, paying
particular attention to the educational aspect, so as to form an unwavering
conscience in people and eradicate the culture of abuse and exploitation.
The logo of your Association is made up of a large letter “M” which evokes the
idea of a womb, welcome, protection and an embrace for the littlest ones. Inside
the ‘M’ are twelve stars, the symbol of the crown of the Virgin Mary, Mother of
Jesus and mother of all children. She, a caring mother, committed to loving her
Son Jesus, is a model and guide for the whole Association, encouraging us to
love with evangelical charity children who are victims of slavery and violence.
Love for our neighbour is inseparable from the love that God has for us and that
we have for him. For this reason I urge you always to root your daily activity in
your daily relationship with God: in personal and community prayer, in listening
to his Word and above all in the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity and bond of
Dear brothers and sisters, I renew my appreciation and gratitude to the leaders,
members, volunteers and those who cooperate with your Association. Do not be
afraid in the face of misunderstandings and difficulties; there are many, but do
not be afraid. Go forth with courage and perseverance. I accompany you with
my prayer and also with my blessing. And you too, please do not forget to pray
for me. Thank you!