From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (1981):
In the family, which is a community of persons, special attention must be devoted to the children by developing a profound esteem for their personal dignity, and a great respect and generous concern for their rights. This is true for every child, but it becomes all the more urgent the smaller the child is and the more it is in need of everything, when it is sick, suffering or handicapped.
By fostering and exercising a tender and strong concern for every child that comes into this world, the Church fulfills a fundamental mission: for she is called upon to reveal and put forward anew in history the example and the commandment of Christ the Lord, who placed the child at the heart of the Kingdom of God: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”75
I repeat once again what I said to the General Assembly of the United Nations on October 2, 1979: “I wish to express the joy that we all find in children, the springtime of life, the anticipation of the future history of each of our present earthly homelands. No country on earth, no political system can think of its own future otherwise than through the image of these new generations that will receive from their parents the manifold heritage of values, duties and aspirations of the nation to which they belong and of the whole human family. Concern for the child, even before birth, from the first moment of conception and then throughout the years of infancy and youth, is the primary and fundamental test of the relationship of one human being to another. And so, what better wish can I express for every nation and for the whole of mankind, and for all the children of the world than a better future in which respect for human rights will become a complete reality throughout the third millennium, which is drawing near?”76
Acceptance, love, esteem, many-sided and united material, emotional, educational and spiritual concern for every child that comes into this world should always constitute a distinctive, essential characteristic of all Christians, in particular of the Christian family: thus children, while they are able to grow “in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man,”77 offer their own precious contribution to building up the family community and even to the sanctification of their parents.78
75 Lk 18:16; cf. Mt 19:14; Mk 10:14.
76 John Paul II, Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations (Oct. 2, 1979), 21: Acta Apostolicæ Sedis 71 (1979), 1159.
77 Lk 2:52.
78 Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 48.
— Familiaris Consortio 26