Moscow, June 1, 2017
The International Day of Protection of Children is celebrated throughout the world on June 1, 2017. The holiday was established by decision of the Women's International Democratic Federation congress in November 1949, and was first celebrated in 1950.
There are traditionally various events held on this day in many countries of the world dedicated to the protection of children, including anti-abortion activities. Charity events are often held to collect money for seriously ill children as well. The day has been well received by Local Orthodox Churches.
The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church has also established the Sunday following the Day of Protection of Children as the Day of Parents and Children. In his message for both celebrations, the patriarch calls upon the Romanian people to defend the legacy of their forefathers and keep their Orthodox faith strong, especially in the face of the many challenges facing families today.
The Romanian Orthodox Church “promotes and defends that the family consists of a man and a woman, because this is the spring of life of human society. The natural and traditional family has the holy vocation to be working the vineyard of man with God the Creator, to give life during earthly existence and to gain eternal life,” the patriarch writes.
The primate noted that the Romanian Church operates many counseling centers, humanitarian campaigns, youth camps, educational projects, volunteer programs, pilgrimages, and other social activities, all in support of traditional families and the defense and protection of children. The patriarch closed with a prayer: “We pray to the most Holy Trinity to bless all parents and all children, to give them health and salvation, and peace and joy for many blessed years!”
In an Izvestia article dedicated to the Day of Protection of Children, Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo and Zuevo (Russian Orthodox Church) recalled that all traditional religions and major ethnic systems have upheld the protection of children before birth, for “if a child is not born yet, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” The head of the Synodal Department for Charity also recalled that the Hippocratic Oath forbids a doctor from giving abortive medicine, and that the UN General Assembly has more than once adopted texts that declare that a child “special protection and care, including the appropriate legal protection, both before and after birth.”
Likewise, of course, the Russian Orthodox Church calls for the protection of life from the moment of conception, the bishop notes. Further, protecting children’s lives necessarily entails protecting the moral, spiritual, and physical health of mothers. “Abortion is neither treatment nor medical care,” Bp. Panteleimon writes, “It does not help health, but harms the health of a woman; it does not save a life, but quite the opposite.”
“Protection of children is the joy and sacred duty of every person,” the department head concluded.
Since 2016, the Russian Orthodox Church has also celebrated the joint memory of the holy, right-believing spouses Grand Prince Dimitry Donskoy and Grand Duchess Eudoxia (Euphrosyne in monasticism) on this day. The date is no coincidence, as the saints were the parents of twelve children, and their life, according to the chronicles, was an example of marital fidelity and harmony.
Romanian Patriarch Daniel has also shared his personal prayers for the day, published by the Basilica News Agency:
O, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Heavenly Father, Who has blessed the children and said: Let the children come to Me and do not hinder them, You Who looked with love at the young man asking You: Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?, You Who raised from the dead the son of the widow of Nain, Jairus’ daughter and Your friend, Lazarus, bless with Your grace and love all the children and young people in the world! Protect all the children baptized in Your name, who make the sign of Your Cross. Guide the youth and illumine by Your holy light the life of young people in our Church. Increase the love of children for their parents and the love of parents for their children. Enhance the diligence of children and young people for education and their respect and gratitude for their educators, teachers and professors.
Lord Jesus Christ, the Physician of our souls and bodies, heal the multitude of ill children and young people suffering in their families, in hospitals, in children’s homes; quench their suffering and offer patience and love to those who take care of them: parents, doctors, nurses and medical assistants.
Lord Jesus Christ, Most-Merciful Shepherd, comfort by Your Holy Spirit, and by the intercessions of Your Mother and all the Saints, the multitude of orphans or children abandoned by their parents, the saddened and lonely, the poor and helpless children. Grant paternal love to every adult to manifest it towards children without parents or home.
Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, give hope and spiritual strength to confused young people without a goal in life, discouraged and without any hope for the future. Enable parents, the servants of the Church, the civil authorities and all people of goodwill to closely take care of the present and the future of the children and youth in our country, so that they could feel they live under Your blessing, in a country blessed by You, in a people bearing Your name since its Christianization, as a new people in the world.
Bless, O, Lord, all educators, teachers and professors who are taking care of children and young people, who protect and guide them, who help and instruct them in order to become faithful and wise, industrious and generous, good and honest, merciful and brave for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity and the dignity of our people. Amen.