June 19, 2019
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Pope Francis meets 400 children affected by tragedies

 Pope Francis (C) during an audience with participants of Charis International Conference in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican, June 8, 2019. EPA-EFE/RICCARDO ANTIMIANI

Pope Francis (C) during an audience with participants of Charis International Conference in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican, June 8, 2019. EPA-EFE/RICCARDO ANTIMIANI

Vatican City, Jun 8 (efe-epa).- Pope Francis on Saturday met with a group of 400 Italian children who have been affected by tragedies including the 2018 bridge collapse in the northern city of Genoa and the 2013 flooding in Sardinia.

Children affected by crime in the city of Naples were also among those who met the pontiff.

The event was part of "The Children's Train" project, an initiative established by the Pontifical Council for Culture that every year brings children from all over Italy living in difficult circumstances to the Vatican to meet and talk with the pope.

During the seventh edition, children traveled from the northern port city of Genoa by train to Civitavecchia, where they met those coming from Sardinia by boat.

They then went to Rome’s main railway station to meet the children traveling from crime-ridden neighborhoods of Naples before all of them took a high-speed train to Vatican City.

Once there, the children walked through the Vatican's gardens to the San Damaso Courtyard in the Apostolic Palace, where Pope Francis welcomed them affectionately and talked with them for an hour about their problems and concerns.

In a relaxed atmosphere, the children asked the pope about his own childhood, what he looked like when he was at school, his decision to dedicate his life to religion, and what he does when he wants to speak badly of someone.

“When you feel like speaking badly about others, bite your own tongue. Bite it really, really hard so that it swells up and you can’t speak,” the pope said.

Pope Francis also admitted that he does not like traveling.

The Pontiff also confessed that he does not like to travel and, when asked about the value of money, he encouraged the children not to live for it, as living for money "spoils the heart and corrupts the soul."

After the meeting, the children gave the pope some drawings, stuffed animals, handicrafts and local products, as well as sang rap to him. EFE

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