VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday he will lead a special gathering with children at the Vatican in October.
The pope said he plans to hold "a special catechism" on Oct. 15 for children, particularly from Rome and the surrounding region, who received the sacrament of Holy Communion this year. He made the announcement during his traditional weekly appearance at his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square.
Many among the tens of thousands of people in the square clapped and cheered when the pope mentioned the special day for children. Parents hoisted small children on their shoulders for a better view of the pontiff, who thanked the crowd for its applause.
Benedict also urged the faithful to stress to their children the importance of going to Mass each Sunday. The pope reminded those in St. Peter's Square that during a trip last month to Bari, Italy, he told faithful that the duty of attending Mass every Sunday "must be felt by the Christian not as an imposition or as a weight, but as a need and a joy."
"Without Sunday, we Christians cannot live," Benedict said.
The pope, who was elected by cardinals in April to succeed John Paul II, has been continuing the late pontiff's campaign to shore up the sometimes flagging faith among Roman Catholics.