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Reading Is Great, Pope Tells Children
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Saturday, September 25, 2010
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A young boy reads while attending a religious education class.
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS)—Being able to read and write is a really great thing, Pope Benedict XVI told about 400 elementary school children.

Learning those skills, "we can know what others think, read newspapers and books; we can know what was written 2,000 years ago or even longer ago," but even better, we can read the Bible, he told the children Sept. 23.

During the special evening audience in the courtyard of the papal summer villa, the pope met the students from the Paul VI Pontifical School, an elementary school in Castel Gandolfo staffed by sisters on Vatican property, but funded by the Italian government.

The 83-year-old Pope Benedict told the kids, "I started going to school 77 years ago."

"It was in a tiny town of 300 souls, a bit 'beyond the moon,'" he said, translating into Italian the German saying for a town in the middle of nowhere.

Despite the school's remote location, "we learned the essentials. We especially learned to read and write, and I think it's a great thing to be able to read and write," he said.

"Here's something extraordinary: God wrote a book, that is, he spoke to us humans and found people who wrote the book with the word of God," the pope explained. "Reading it, we, too, can read what God has to say to us."

The pope also said that school is a great place to make friends.

But a Christian's first best friend should be Jesus, "who is everyone's friend and really shows us the path of life," he said.

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