World Children’s Day Offers Hope for the Future

By Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich

On May 25-26, Pope Francis and nearly 50,000 children and adults gathered to celebrate the first World Children’s Day in Rome and Vatican City.

Announced by Pope Francis in December of last year, the two-day event focused on children ages 5-12 and “aim[ed] to place the condition of children at the center, offering a space for reflection on their future and on the world we intend to deliver to them.”

Centered around the motto, “Behold, I Make All Things New,” children from around the world joined the Holy Father for a time of prayer, reflection, and celebration.

On the morning of May 25, Pope Francis met with about 30 children who, through their examples, shared messages of hope and resilience with the Holy Father. Many had lost limbs, been orphaned, or faced immense hardship due to violence and war. The audience with Pope Francis was a special experience for the children, as Father Marcin Schmidt said of the encounter, “The Holy Father welcomed us with a big smile and great joy, like a grandfather embracing his grandchildren.”

That evening, Pope Francis arrived at the “Children’s Village” in Rome’s Olympic Stadium in his white “popemobile” to a cheering crowd representing more than 100 nationalities that had gathered for World Children’s Day.

In his remarks Pope Francis said, “We are gathered here at the Olympic Stadium, to ‘kick-off’ the movement of girls and boys who want to build a world of peace, where we are all brothers and sisters, a world that has a future because we want to take care of the environment around us.”

The Holy Father asked the crowd of children if they thought peace was beautiful, and if they knew how much Jesus Christ loves them. The children confidently and loudly responded, “Yes!”

Pope Francis told the crowd, “In you, children, everything speaks of life and of the future,” and encouraged them to “go ahead with joy.”

On May 26, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Pope Francis presided over Mass in St. Peter’s Square with the children, clad in colorful hats to shield them from the sun. Children participated in the Mass as altar servers, musicians, lectors, and gift bearers.

Pope Francis opted to improvise his homily – instead of reading his prepared remarks – and involved the children in a lesson about the role of the Holy Trinity in their own lives.

Before finishing his homily, Pope Francis reminded the children to pray to their Mother in Heaven, and that their faith is a source of joy. “Dear brothers and sisters, boys and girls,” he said, “we are all happy because we believe. Faith makes us happy. And we believe in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Following the Mass and the Angelus, Pope Francis announced that the next World Children’s Day will be held in September 2026. Despite the hardship of conflict and war around the world, the first World Children’s Day was a testament to the faith and goodness of children and a renewal of our shared hope for a peaceful future.

For more commentary from Callista Gingrich, visit