Pope Francis answers questions from children in new book

NEW YORK -- "Dear Pope Francis," 10-year-old Mohammed begins, "Will the world be again as it was in the past?"

See Full Article

Signed "Respectfully yours," the boy wrote from a Jesuit-run school for refugee children in Syria and was treated to a long and personal answer from the pope himself. So were 29 other children who posed questions to Francis in letters from around the globe for a new book poignantly illustrated with their own artwork.

The book, "Dear Pope Francis," is out March 1 from Loyola Press in Chicago. It's a project that likely wouldn't have materialized without the help of Father Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit like the pope and the director of La Civilta Cattolica, a Roman Catholic journal published in Rome.

Tom McGrath of the Jesuit-founded publishing house co-edited the book with Spadaro after reaching out to the priest for help. Spadaro brought about 50 letters with questions to the pope so he could select 30. Spadaro sat with the pope as he responded to each. Francis often complimented the artwork of the children.

"He knows Pope Francis very well," McGrath said of Spadaro. "We tried to make it as easy for the pope as possible."

The pope's response to Mohammed spoke in part of suffering and the people who inflict it.

"There are those who manufacture weapons so that people fight each other and wage war. There are people who have hate in their hearts. There are people who are interested only in money and would sell everything for it. They would even sell other people," he wrote.

More to Mohammed's point, Francis answered: "No, when the time comes, the world will not be as it was. It will be far better than it was in the past."

Once the pope agreed to participate in the project, Loyola reached out to priests and lay people around the world to connect the publisher with children to write the letters.

The 30 kids in the book range in age from 6 to 13. In all, about 250 letters were received in 14 languages from 26 countries around the globe. The pope wound up with about 50 letters from which to choose.

"He loved the project right from the beginning," McGrath said. "He has this great affection for children, who have a great affection for him. He was surprised at the depth of the questions."

There was no condensing or editing of the pope's responses. In a 90-minute session with Spadaro last August in Rome, Francis responded verbally in a mixture of Italian and Spanish. Spadaro served as transcriber in addition to connecting Loyola Press with the Vatican.

"These are the pope's exact words," McGrath said. "At one point he mentioned, 'These are tough.' He realized that he owed the kids a deeper answer than right off the top of his head."

Spadaro said via email that the pope truly pondered when answering the children.

"Often he looked off into space and tried to imagine the child in front of him," he said. "And in his gaze I saw care, love."

Loyola will publish the book in English and Spanish. As an international Jesuit project, it will also be published simultaneously around the world, including in Brazil, Indonesia, Slovenia, Mexico and India.

Arrangements were still being made but Loyola Press plans to bring 10 of the children included in the book to Rome to meet the pope in person, hopefully in February before its March publication date.

"The pope is eager to meet them," McGrath said. "He was quick to say he would like to make that happen."

They'll be travelling with their parents from China, Ireland, Argentina, India, Canada, Kenya, Singapore, Australia, the United States and the Philippines.

Mohammed will not be among them, but 8-year-old Natasha from Kenya will make the trip to Rome. She asked the pope in her letter: "I would like to know more about Jesus Christ. How did he walk on water?"

The pope's response?

"You have to imagine Jesus walking naturally, normally. He did not fly over the water or turn somersaults while swimming," he wrote. "He walked as you walk! ... Jesus is God, and so he can do anything!"

While one child wanted to know why parents fight and another why the pope wears such a tall hat, 7-year-old William of the United States asked: "If you could do one miracle what would it be?"

"Dear William," the pope said. "I would heal children. I've never been able to understand why children suffer. It's a mystery to me. I don't have an explanation."

------

Online:

http://loyolapress.com/



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Canadian investors looking to LA, where celeb home prices rival inner-city Toronto's

    Entertainment CBC News
    As if housing market prices in Toronto aren't discouraging enough, it hurts even more knowing a celebrity pad in Los Angeles can be comparable in price to some homes in the downtown core. A Hollywood Hills house owned by Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club actor Jared Leto, for example, is currently listed for sale at $1.9 million US. Source
  • 'Fate of the Furious' still outpacing the competition at box office [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES — The Fate of the Furious sped into first place at the box office again, leaving new thriller Unforgettable and historical drama The Promise in the dust. Universal Pictures’ eighth instalment in The Fast and the Furious franchise earned US$38.7 million over the weekend, down 61% from its debut, according to studio estimates Sunday. Source
  • Caitlyn Jenner 'distant' from some of her children post-transition

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Caitlyn Jenner doesn’t speak to some of her children after her transition from man to woman. The 67-year-old former Olympian opened up about her life in the years that followed her shock Vanity Fair cover in 2015, where she finally revealed had left her former identity of Bruce behind, and was living as Caitlyn. Source
  • Margot Robbie to play Queen Elizabeth I

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Margot Robbie is set to join the royal list of actresses who have portrayed Queen Elizabeth I onscreen. The Suicide Squad star has officially signed on to join the cast of Mary Queen of Scots, opposite Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, who will portray Mary Stuart. Source
  • Mel B's first husband fears for their daughter

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Melanie Brown’s first husband Jimmy Gulzar insists his ex-wife has failed to keep their daughter Phoenix Chi out of danger. The Dutch-born dancer was married to the former Spice Girl from 1998-2000 and their child is now 18. Source
  • Rosario Dawson wants in on Star Wars

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Actress Rosario Dawson is calling on more fans to help make her Star Wars dreams come true by backing an online campaign to land her a role in a future project. The Sin City star has become a major fixture in the Marvel comics TV adaptations as medic Claire Temple in Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist but she would love to expand her role with the productions’ parent company Disney and step into one of the planned Star Wars movies. Source
  • Burt Reynolds makes rare public appearance at Tribeca film festival

    Entertainment CBC News
    Robert De Niro helped Burt Reynolds onto the red carpet for the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Reynold's new movie Dog Years Saturday night in New York. It was a rare appearance for the 81-year old actor, who at times struggled to walk. Source
  • 'The Fate of the Furious' laps new films at box office

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- "The Fate of the Furious" sped into first place at the box office again, leaving new thriller "Unforgettable" and historical drama "The Promise" in the dust. Universal Pictures' eighth installment in "The Fast and the Furious" franchise earned $38.7 million over the weekend, down 61 per cent from its debut, according to studio estimates Sunday. Source
  • Bill O'Reilly returns to air Monday for the 1st time since his firing

    Entertainment CBC News
    It's been less than a week since conservative television personality Bill O'Reilly was fired from Fox News and he's already heading back to the airwaves in a podcast from his website. The 67-year-old former host of the longtime, highest-rated Fox news show The O'Reilly Factor is set to release a new podcast on his personal website Monday at 7 p.m. Source
  • Coachella cellphone thefts lead to multiple arrests

    Entertainment CBC News
    Police have arrested five people in the theft of more than 40 cellphones, cash and credit cards at the Coachella music festival in the Southern California desert. Indio police say multiple festival-goers reported the thefts, and investigators identified two separate groups of suspects who had multiple phones on them Saturday. Source