Vatican sponsors international meeting on street children
Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, this week hosted the first International Meeting on Pastoral Care for Street Children.
"Our objective," he said, "is to give visibility to all the private and institutional efforts, associations and non-governmental organisations, to the volunteers and groups committed to helping each and every marginalised child."
The participants, who come from various continents, are reflecting on the dramatic situation of these children with the goal of finding a general pastoral answer to the problems that they face.
Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, council secretary, spoke yesterday on the "the pastoral care of embracing street children."
One-hundred million children, according to a report by Amnesty International - 150,000,000 according to the World Labor Organisation - live on the street in cities in the southern hemisphere. There are 45 million in Latin America, 10 million in Africa and 40 million in Asia.
"They are victims of family break-ups, of sprawling urbanization, migration and the numerous wars of our times."
"Street children," he said, "arrive in the arms of this 'step mother,' the street, with the momentary illusion of finding an 'island' of salvation which does not exist, in the hopes of finding freedom and strong emotions, with the use of alcohol, drugs, and crime."
Archbishop Marchetto indicated that it is important to understand why children end up on the streets in order to find a solution to the problem.
"There are destabilizing family elements (death, divorce, second marriages, conflicts, tension) and the factors of the disintegration of street children with the family."
A response, he said, could be to embrace a child or groups of children in a educative, social and formative dimension for their reintegration. He concluded by emphasising the need to break down the barriers between parents and children so that they return to them and concentrate on education.
International meeting on street children (Vatican Information Service 26/10/04)
Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Violence stalks Cairo's street children (Reuters/Independent South Africa 26/10/04)
Poverty cuts children's chances for a future (National Catholic Reporter 29/10/04)
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Amnesty International USA - Children's Rights
Human Rights Warch - Children's Rights | Easy Targets - Violence Against Children Worldwide | Promises Broken: 10th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
27 Oct 2004