Pope Benedict XVI Supports the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children

“The day after tomorrow the United Nations will hold the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. My thoughts go to all the world’s children, especially those living in difficult conditions and those suffering from violence, abuse, disease, war or hunger. I invite you to join in my prayer and at the same time, I appeal to the international community to strengthen their efforts in order to offer an adequate response to the grave problems of childhood. May there be no lack of the generous commitment of all, so that the rights of children and their dignity may always be more recognize.”

World Day of Prayer and Action for Children is reported by variety of news sources.

IPS: A World Day of Prayer and Action for Children

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 18 — Arigatou International and Religions for Peace International have jointly launched a World Day for Prayer and Action for Children. The 20th of November, designated by the United Nations as Universal Children’s Day, is to be celebrated annually by the world’s religions as A World Day of Prayer and Action for Children.

On that day, which coincides with the anniversary of the most universally embraced human rights treaty – the Convention on the Rights of the Child – prayers and meditations are to be held in places of worship on a common theme that relates to the wellbeing of children and protection of their rights.

In a statement released here, the two non-governmental organisations said: “We propose that one or two common but specific actions are carried out, nation-wide or region-wide, by people of all religious traditions, working in partnership with local governments, community groups and secular organizations involved in providing basic services to children.”

These activities could include immunizing children against infectious diseases; educating families on the importance of breast feeding; combating hunger and malnutrition; providing water and sanitation; promoting birth registration; launch campaigns against harmful traditional practices, corporal punishment, bullying and mobbing, or hazardous child labour; and movements to promote girls’ education, peace education, ethics education.

“We propose that services and acts of worship are held by particular religious communities, as well as interfaith ceremonies and rituals where people from different faiths come together to pray and recommit themselves to working for children’s well-being,” the statement added.

In the 1980s, when the UN children’s agency UNICEF launched a “Child Survival Revolution,” it reached out to the religious communities of the world and requested them to lend their support to this initiative. One specific action UNICEF proposed was to increase childhood immunization levels from less than 20% in the early 1980s to 80% by 1990.

A massive social mobilization was needed involving institutions that reached all communities and enjoyed their respect. The widespread network of religious institutions and leaders was considered a most natural partner for such an ambitious – and sacred – enterprise. And this partnership yielded impressive results.

Catholic News Agency: Holy Father calls for the world to respect the dignity of children

Vatican City, Nov 18, 2009 / 11:33 am (CNA).- Following today’s general audience, Benedict XVI appealed to the international community to respect the rights of children around the globe.

The Holy Father recalled that November 20 marks the United Nations Day of Prayer and Action for Children, saying, “My thoughts go to all the children of the world, especially those who live in difficult conditions, and suffer because of violence, abuse, sickness, war or hunger.”

“At the same time,” he continued, “I make an appeal to the international community to increase its efforts to offer an adequate response to the dramatic problems of infancy. May a generous commitment on everyone’s part not be lacking so that the rights of children may be recognized and their dignity given ever greater respect.”

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UNICEF: UNICEF and faith-based partners launch World Day of Prayer and Action for Children

By David Ponet

NEW YORK, USA, 18 November 2009 – As the international community prepares to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on 20 November, UNICEF today took part in the global launch of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children.

To mark this day, faith communities around the world are engaging in activities related to the well-being of children and the protection of their rights – values espoused by all religious traditions and enshrined in the CRC.

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman spoke at the global launch event today in New York. She noted that religious leaders and faith-based groups have the moral standing and influence to instill a sense of global solidarity, which can help bring about positive change for children.

Prayer and action combined

Organized by two of UNICEF key faith-based partners – the Arigatou Foundation and Religions for Peace – this new initiative aims to unite people of goodwill from many religious traditions, governments, civil society and international organizations in the name of children’s rights.

Going forward, the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children will set aside a specific day every year for people of all religious traditions to rededicate themselves to promoting child rights through prayer and tangible, measurable action.

Shared principles

The principles of justice, humanity and dignity articulated throughout the CRC reflect deeply held values found in major religious traditions. Among these shared values are:

  • A fundamental belief in the dignity of the child
  • The high priority given to children, as well as the idea that all members of society have responsibilities towards them
  • A holistic notion of the child and a comprehensive understanding of his or her material, emotional and spiritual needs.

The importance given to family as the best place for the upbringing of the child.

From the smallest village to the biggest city – and on to the national and transnational levels – religious communities offer a large and enduring network for the care and protection of children. And with their moral authority, religious leaders are able to change mindsets and set priorities for their communities. Working with partners in the public and private sectors, they can help deliver the services that children need in order to thrive.

Humanity’s best hope

The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children recognizes the power of partnerships to safeguard child rights. Across the globe, UNICEF country and regional offices are participating in events to mark the day. For example:

  • In Gambia, UNICEF is working with the Supreme Islamic Council and the Gambian Christian Council to focus prayers on maternal health and child survival at the closing session of an all-Africa ministerial meeting on women’s issues
  • In Sri Lanka, hundreds of children gathered with religious leaders for a keynote address by UNICEF’s Regional Director
  • In Jordan, imams will deliver sermons on eliminating violence in schools
  • In Mauritania, UNICEF and the Ministry of Childhood are coordinating with the country’s mosques to address children’s issues during Friday prayers
  • And in Botswana, UNICEF is launching resource guides on children’s rights, developed with religious organizations.

At the heart of every religious tradition is the insight that children are humanity’s best hope. The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children offers a unique opportunity not only to celebrate this common conviction, but also to harness global solidarity towards a brighter future for all children.

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