VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis told a group of children with autism and spectrum disorders Monday (Sept. 21) that they are beautiful, unique flowers in the eyes of God. Francis met with members of an Austrian center for autism, Sonnenschein (“Sunshine”), in an audience at the Vatican. He told them that the center’s name evoked a flower-filled lawn in the sun “and the flowers of this house are you!”
Speaking to the children, their parents, and caregivers from the center, Francis said: “God created the world with a great variety of flowers of all different colors. Each flower has its unique beauty. And each one of us is beautiful in the eyes of God, who loves us.”
Francis has a particular soft spot for children, allowing himself even amid coronavirus social distancing protocols to greet and pat them on the head during his public audiences. He has frequently met with groups of children and parents who are experiencing difficulties in caring for them, hoping to encourage them through sickness, disability, poverty, and other challenges.