They are among the most vulnerable victims of the pandemic and pay a very high price, often unrecognised, so much so that there is talk of a 'parallel pandemic'. Children suffer from the psycho-social consequences of the change imposed on their lives by the COVID-19 pandemic. A real upheaval at times for children who have been orphaned by their parents or who have fallen into extreme poverty with their families. Not infrequently, unable to attend school and forced by the need to support their families, they are also forced to work in exploitative and violent conditions.
It is in order to shine a light on the suffering of the child victims of the pandemic that the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL) and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, together with its Vatican COVID-19 Commission, presented today, at the headquarters of the PAV, two publications that express above all the Church's care for "its youngest children". Present were the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, the ad-interim secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Sr. Alessandra Smerilli and Dr. Alberto Villani, Director of the Complex Operative Unit of General Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases at the Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital in Rome and Academic of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
The article offered by PAV, in collaboration with the Dicastery for Promoting ntegral Human Development, focuses on the educational challenge posed by COVID and identifies some priorities, such as ensuring the opening of schools, preserving family relationships, transmitting faith in the God of life. The document of the Vatican Commission COVID-19 highlights that the pandemic has worsened the living conditions of millions of children, especially in the most socio-economically deprived contexts, with 150 million children plunged into poverty and with a significant increase in child labour and child slavery, domestic violence, food insecurity and educational delays.
In this context of profound distress, the maternal role of the Church is highlighted, which becomes a "place" of protection, care and promotion of the life and healthy and balanced development of children, working to ensure, first of all, a "family" living environment, and then opportunities for education and socialisation, basic health care and protection from all forms of violence, interventions aimed at resolving conflicts between parents and children and at helping them overcome isolation to develop relationships among peers.
During the presentation, two short videos were broadcast with reflections by Philip Goldman, founder and chairman of Maestral International, consultant to the Vatican Commission COVID-19, and Prof. Milena Santerini, from the Catholic University of Milan, consultant to PAV.