More than 230 million children around the world live in areas affected by armed conflict. Although there is no accurate data on the total number of child soldiers, it is estimated that there are around 250,000. Child soldiers — some as young as 6 years old — are forced to fight and kill. They are also compelled to participate in espionage, support armed groups as informants, and engage in illicit activities such as drug production.
Prayer and supporting JRS and Entreculturas programs can help ensure that children do not spend their childhood on a battlefield. People are also encouraged to support Pope Francis' initiative by signing the related petition.
Below is The Pope's Video — a worldwide call to turn prayer into "concrete gestures" — from December 2016, in which the pope prays that the scandal of child soldiers may be eliminated.
August 17, 2018 — Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Father Earl A. Weis, SJ, who was called to eternal life on August 15, 2018. Fr. Earl died at the Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Mich. He was 95 years old, a Jesuit for almost seventy-seven years, and a priest for sixty-four years.
August 14, 2018 — Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Thomas "Tom" C. Widner, SJ, who was called to eternal life on August 13, 2018. Tom died at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Ind. He was seventy-six years old, a Jesuit for almost thirty-three years, and a priest for forty-nine years.
August 6, 2018 — Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Father Charles "Chuck" F. Burns, SJ, who was called to eternal life on August 2, 2018. Chuck died at St. Camillus, in Wauwatosa, Wis. He was eighty-one years old, a Jesuit for almost fifty-four years, and a priest for forty-six years.