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."





Latest Entertainment News

  • If I only had $85K: Fundraiser for 'Oz' Scarecrow costume

    Entertainment CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Now that the Smithsonian has reached its crowd-funding goal to preserve the ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz," the museum is asking for more money to conserve another relic from the beloved movie. Source
  • Walking Dead director justifies relentlessly bloody season 7 premiere

    Entertainment CBC News
    After six seasons of relentless blood, gore and anguish, it's probably more difficult to shock and appall the fans of The Walking Dead compared to most other shows. But Sunday night's season 7 premiere managed to do both. Source
  • 'Doctor Strange' review: Marvel crafts its grooviest hero yet [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Just like hippies dropping tabs of LSD in the late 1960s and groovin’ on hallucinogenic images in their scrambled brains, the cinematic engineers behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe just went “far out, man” with Doctor Strange. Source
  • 'The Walking Dead': Michael Cudlitz says no one is safe in Season 7

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Fans of The Walking Dead might still be mourning the victims of Sunday night’s shocking Season 7 premiere, but they shouldn’t feel too bad for the actors involved. Michael Cudlitz, who played the gruff-but-tender ex-soldier Abraham, says coming into AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama without the assumption that your character will be killed off at some point is foolish. Source
  • Drake turns 30, gives his fans the gift of new music

    Entertainment CBC News
    Drake knows how to turn his birthday into a lifestyle. The rapper shared new songs with fans and announced a new project set to release in December, just ahead of his 30th birthday on Monday. Drake postpones Summer Sixteen shows over ankle injury Source
  • Q&A: 'Walking Dead' director on who got killed-off in 'horrible' new episode

    Entertainment CTV News
    After six seasons of relentless blood, gore and anguish, it's probably more difficult to shock and appall the fans of "The Walking Dead" compared to most other shows. But Sunday night's season 7 premiere managed to do both. Source
  • Heath Ledger had 'Joker shrine' set up in his apartment: report

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Heath Ledger took his role as The Joker so seriously, he transformed his New York City loft into a shrine to the character, law enforcement sources tell Page Six. The gossip site reports after Ledger died of an overdose in 2008, cops entered his home to find he was an obsessed Batman superfan who filled his apartment with Batman comics, clown statues, and books about clown performers. Source
  • Singer Pete Burns of '80s band Dead or Alive dies at 57

    Entertainment CBC News
    Pete Burns of 1980s pop band Dead or Alive, best known for its worldwide hit You Spin Me Round (Like a Record), has died of a heart attack at the age of 57. The British singer-songwriter's management team confirmed Monday that Burns died of "a massive cardiac arrest" a day earlier. Source
  • Madeleine Thien, Canada's newest literary star, a favourite to win prestigious Man Booker Prize

    Entertainment CBC News
    Madeleine Thien is Canada's newest literary star — making a splash in Canada and abroad with her novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing — nabbing a high-profile trio of nominations for the Man Booker Prize, the Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Awards. Source
  • Dead or Alive frontman Pete Burns dead at 57

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    British singer Pete Burns has died after suffering a heart attack. The former Dead or Alive frontman passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, according to a statement issued by his management team on Burns’ official Twitter page. Source