(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?
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.