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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Dear Pope Francis

(35. – 965.) Dear Pope Francis by Pope Francis and the Children of the World – Last weekend, Thanksgiving in Canada, our parish priest was away and I gave the reflection at the lay led service we had at the Church on Sunday. The last part of the Gospel reading from Mark involved Jesus admonishing the disciples for keeping the children away from him. It concludes with:

            And Jesus took them up in his arms,
            Laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

As I reflected on the reading I thought about Pope Francis and children. I looked around the internet and found this book published by Loyola Press in 2016.

The book was premised on:

            If you could ask Pope Francis one question, what would it

Children were invited to write to the Pope:

Children have questions and struggles just like adults, but rarely are they given the chance to voice their concerns and ask the big questions resting deep in their hearts. In Dear Pope Francis, Pope Francis gives them that chance and celebrates their spiritual depth by directly answering questions from around the world.

Jesuits around the world collected letters and drawings from children. From the 259 letters 30 were chosen for the book. They ask a variety of questions.

Natasha (8) from Kenya asked:

            I would like to know more about Jesus Christ. How did he 
            walk on water?

Ryan (8) from Canada asked:

It’s an honour to ask you my question. My question is, what did God do before the world was made?

Prajla (6) from Albania asked:

         When you were a
         child, did you like 

Ryan (7) from the United States asked:

            How can God hear us? God bless you!

Pope Francis answered Ryan:

            Do you know, Ryan, that God listens to us?

Yes, he listens to us, but not with ears. God can hear us even if words don’t come out of our mouths. God listens to the heart. Jesus also said this: When we pray, we don’t have to say many things; we don’t have to have long discussions with God. They aren’t needed. What we need to do, however, is really open our hearts to him. We must open our hearts just as they are. Then God can listen to what we have in our hearts. And Jesus, because he is God, is near to every person and listens to everyone. He is God, and he can do this.

Perhaps the most powerful, certainly the most poignant, was the letter and answer involving Luca (7) from Australia:

            My mum is in heaven. Will she grow angel wings?

You can see Luca and hear the Pope’s response in this video which I played during my reflection – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhIyA-7J8qw

I said I admired Pope Francis for his thoughtful responses to the children.

I went on to show another short video of Pope Francis showing compassion and love to a young boy and reminding adults not to act like God on earth in making judgments of others –

The book will cause young and old to reflect on faith and life. I appreciate the Pope writing a book to children. He was the first Pope to write a book to children. His answers are never condescending and always sincere. I can recommend Dear Pope Francis to readers of all ages.


  1. What I like about this, Bill, is that it really seems to respect children's views and concerns. Too often, adults assume what children are thinking, hoping, and so on, and don't really listen to them. And those questions get to the heart of things, don't they?

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I spent decades teaching judo to children. I enjoyed listening to what they had to tell me. Their questions, as in the book, were often direct and penetrating.

  2. I can't understand a discussion about Pope Francis and the Catholic Church without discussing his loss of popularity due to his mishandling of the child sexual abuse crisis. He is getting heavy criticism on this issue. His popularity has declined. There are investigations by governments in several states and in other countries.

    The pope has fired some cardinals and some bishops in Chile, among others, in response to the public pressure.

    But this is a massive crisis for the Church and for him.

    Many parents in the U.S. are worried for their children's safety in sending them to Catholic school.

    1. Kathy D.: Pope Francis has lost more popularity outside the church than within the Church. Within our parish and diocese we recognize the great harm done. At the same time it does not preoccupy us. There is little perspective on the issue outside the church. For major media it is the only issue for church. Within our parish Pope Francis is respected. The book and his interaction with Emmanuele reflect his personality. He is not perfect and acknowledges, as all Catholics do, that he is a sinner.

  3. i don't classify people as sinners quite like that. Pope Francis made a lot of mistakes as have previous popes, bishops, cardinals in protecting abusive priests. The Church has lost an enormous number of adherents in Ireland and Germany and other European countries, many because of this crisis.

    Abuse of children, teens and young people is very serious Many are scarred for life In Donegal Country in Ireland, the NY Times reported on many cases of child abuse. The priest was finally prosecuted because of an investigation by a former police detective. But 15 men committed suicide because of their childhood abuse.

    This is a huge crisis. And it's not because of the media. The media just covers the news and reveals what has been hidden. The news is still the news and facts are facts.

    Because some of my ancestors were from Ireland, I follow news there. And the Church has lost many adherents because of this history which finally came out. Protecting children who are the most vulnerable people is the responsibility of all adults -- religious and nonreligious.

  4. That is Donegal County.

  5. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. Sexual abuse of children has been a major issue for the Church. Catholics have been very conscious of the issue. I am sure some have left the Church over the issue. Those people generally left years ago. Media reports stories. Media also comments. I disagree with the emphasis that this is the only issue within the Church. Media also rarely states the Church is much more than its leadership.

  6. In the early 1980s, 80-90^ of people in Ireland went to mass. Now it's down to about 35%, in single digits in Dublin. There are many reasons, including the Magdalene laundries scandal and break-up of mothers and children (see film "Philomena," based on Philomena Lee's biography), and then the child sex abuse scandal.

    Many Irish people are very angry about all of this. That's not the media's fault.

    1. Kathy D.: There are certainly people in Ireland and other countries angry with the leadership of the Church. There has also been a drop in attendance of other Christian Churches in the same time period.In Ireland the Presbyterian Church attendance had declined about 40%. Attendance is a challenge for all Churches in First World countries. Attendance is also an issue with other faiths. I have read that about 20% of American Jews attend services weekly. A lot of people in First World countries do not attend regular services of any faith.