(Vatican 2015-05-11) Pope Francis met a group of some 7 thousand children on Monday, in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. The focus of the special audience was peace: how to build it, and how to keep it. Sponsored by the Fabbrica della pace – or, “Peace Factory” – an interdisciplinary, non-governmental organization that promotes an integration, multiethnic and cross-cultural understanding through education, starting in the years of primary school.

During the course of the gathering, Pope Francis fielded questions from his young guests on a range of subjects, from how he got along with his siblings growing up, to why the powerful so often fail to care for the needs of the poor and suffering – especially as far as education is concerned – to what to do when one of our fellows refuses to make peace with us, despite our efforts.

The Holy Father concluded his session with the children with a call for conversion, which he placed as a request that each and every one of those present – young and old, himself included – make some small change for the better in attitude or behavior. “Whenever we do something together,” said Pope Francis, “something good, something beautiful, everyone changes – all of us change in some way – and this does us good,” he said. “All of us today should leave this encounter changed in some small way: but for the worse, or for the better?” he asked.

“For the better! For the better!” they cried, and Pope Francis agreed. He thanked them and blessed them, and sent them on their way.