During his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis talked about the suffering of countless victims of child exploitation.
"Tomorrow, June 12th, we celebrate the World Day Against Child Labor. Millions of children, listen closely, dozens of millions of children are forced to work in degrading conditions, exposed to forms of slavery and exploitation, to abuse, mistreatment and discrimination.”
The Pope asked the international community to protect children from this plague. He said a "calm childhood allows kids to look at the future with confidence.” He also recited a Hail Mary for them.
Pope Francis arrived to St. Peter's Square 30 minutes early. He greeted a large group of children with disabilities, taking refuge from the heat inside the Paul VI Hall.
During his catechesis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Pope described fear of the Lord. He then explained what it means.
"It doesn't mean being afraid of God. No, it's not that. We know that the Lord is our Father, and He loves us and wants our salvation. He always forgives, always. So we have no reason to be afraid of Him.”
Pope Francis explained that this gift "makes us feel like children in the arms of their father.” He added that before God, Christians are weak and fragile.
"That's what the Holy Spirit does with the gift of fear of the Lord. It opens hearts. An open heart so that forgiveness, mercy, kindness, and the embrace of our Father may come to us.”
The Pope added that fear of God is also an alarm against sin.
"Do you think that a corrupt person will be happy elsewhere? No! The fruits of his corruption have corrupted his heart, and make it difficult to search for the Lord. Listen! Don't place all your hopes on money, on pride, power and vanity. These cannot promise you anything.”
The Pope also had some words for human and weapon traffickers.
"I'm sure that if I ask a question now: How many of you are weapon manufacturers? None! None! Because they don't come to listen to the Word of God.”
With his weekly audience, Pope Francis resumed his scheduled activities. He had canceled all appointments on Monday and Tuesday, after a particularly busy weekend.