29 JANUARY 2004
POPE’S MESSAGE FOR LENT 2004 PUBLISHED
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me”
Pope John Paul II’s Lenten Message for 2004, dated December 8, 2003, was made
public today in English, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Portuguese and Polish.
The theme of the Pope’s Message for 2004 is “Whoever receives one such child in
my name receives me”.
Following are excerpts from the Pope’s Message:
“This year’s theme – ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me’ –
invites us to reflect on the condition of children. . Jesus’ words call upon us
to see how children are treated in our families, in civil society, and in the Church.”
“Jesus had a particular love for children because of ‘their simplicity, their
joy of life, their spontaneity, and their faith filled with wonder’. For this
reason He wishes the community to open its arms and its heart to them, even as
He did: ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me’. Alongside
children Jesus sets the ‘very least of the brethren’: the suffering, the needy,
the hungry and thirsty, strangers, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned.
In welcoming them and loving them, or in treating them with indifference and
contempt, we show our attitude towards him, for it is in them that He is
“In the years of his public life Jesus often insisted that only those who
become like children will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. .’Whoever humbles himself
like this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven’.
“‘To become’ one of the least and ‘to receive’ the little ones: these are two
aspects of a single teaching which the Lord repeats to His disciples in our time.
Only the one who makes himself one of the “least” is able to receive with love
the “least” of our brothers and sisters.
“Many believers strive faithfully to follow these teachings of the Lord. Here I
would mention those parents who willingly take on the responsibility of a large
family, mothers and fathers who, rather than considering success in their
profession and career as the highest value, make every effort to pass on to
their children those human and religious values that give true meaning to life.
“With great admiration I also think of all those committed to caring for
underprivileged children and those who alleviate the sufferings of children
and their families resulting from war and violence, inadequate food and water,
forced immigration and the many forms of injustice present in the world.
“Together with such great generosity, however, a word must be said about the
selfishness of those who do not ‘receive’ children. There are young people who
have been profoundly hurt by the violence of adults: sexual abuse, forced
prostitution, involvement in the sale and use of drugs; children forced to
work or enlisted for combat; young children scarred forever by the breakup
of the family; little ones caught up in the obscene trafficking of organs
“What evil have these children done to merit such suffering? From a human
standpoint it is not easy, indeed it may be impossible, to answer this
disturbing question. Only faith can make us begin to understand so profound
an abyss of suffering.”
“Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us set out with trust on our Lenten journey,
sustained by fervent prayer, penance and concern for those in need. In particular,
may this Lent be a time of ever greater concern for the needs of children, in
our own families and in society as a whole: for they are the future of humanity.”
29 January 2004
* The full text of the Pope’s Lenten Message is available on the Vatican website:
click here for full text
* Lent begins on Wednesday 25th February 2004.