.- Adoption is often a difficult and bureaucratic process, but there are many children who need homes and the Church should step up to help them, Pope Francis said Friday.
Speaking May 24 to employees and patients of an Italian hospital for abandoned children, he said, “so many times there are people who want to adopt children, but there is such enormous bureaucracy,” such as high fees or, at worst, corruption.
“[There are] many, many families who do not have children and would certainly have the desire to have one with adoption,” he continued. “Go forward, to create a culture of adoption, because there are so many abandoned children, alone, victims of war and so on.”
Pope Francis spoke about adoption in unprepared remarks during a Vatican meeting with 70 employees and children from the 600-year-old Hospital of the Innocents in Florence.
In both his casual remarks and a prepared speech, the pope referenced a past practice of some mothers when they abandoned a child at a hospital. They would leave with their newborns “medals broken in half, with which they hoped, by presenting the other half, to be able to recognize their children in better times.”
Today there continue to be many children who are alone, he added, whether victims of unaccompanied migration, of war, of hunger: “Children with half a medal.”
“And who has the other half? Mother Church,” he underlined. “We have the other half.”
“We need to reflect and make people understand that we are responsible for this other half and help make today another ‘home of the innocents,’ more global, with the attitude of adoption.”
Francis also said there must be a goal, at various levels of responsibility, of ensuring “no mother finds herself in a position of having to abandon her child.”
“But we must also ensure that in the face of any event, even tragic, that may detach a child from her parents, there are structures and paths of welcome in which childhood is always protected and cared for, in the only way worthy: giving children the best we can offer them,” he said.
The pope said children are among the most fragile members of society, such as those who are rejected, or who face “desperate journeys to escape hunger or war.”
Speaking about abortion, he said there are “children who do not see the light because their mothers suffer economic, social, cultural conditioning that pushes them to give up that wonderful gift that is the birth of a child.”
“How much we need a culture that recognizes the value of life, especially the weak, threatened, abused,” he said, adding that the Church should be concerned with creating a culture of care and beauty, not exclusion.
“A culture,” he argued, “that recognizes in every face, even the smallest, the face of Jesus: ‘Whoever welcomes one child like this in my name, welcomes me.’”