30 questions: Pope Francis responds to children’s queries

New book offers insights from the pontiff on walking on water, soccer and getting old

 

So. You’re Pope Francis. And you’re finally getting used to people coming to you seeking all sorts of answers, even if you still struggle with the belief that some take your replies as infallible.

And then you’re asked “Dear Pope Francis, why do you like to play soccer?” Or “....is your profession hard?” Or ...”what did God do before the world was made?” Or “...do bad people have a guardian angel, too”. Or “when you were a child, did you like to dance?”

What do you say?

Then there are those OMG qustions: “...do you know why some parents argue with each other?” And “my mum is in heaven. Will she grow angel wings”. And “why are there not as many miracles anymore?”

All feature in a charming book, Dear Pope Francis, in which he answers letters from children around the world.

The book was launched at St Patrick’s Primary School in Armagh on Tuesday by Catholic primate, Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Last August Jesuit priest Fr Antonio Spadaro went to see Pope Francis in the Vatican, bringing with him questions from children all around the world, illustrated with drawings. One from Clara O’Gormain, a 12-year-old from Galway, was included in the book.

‘Tough questions’

Looking at them Pope Francis commented “...but these are tough questions.” He answered 30 and it is these, with accompanying drawings, that have been published.

Clara O’Gormain, a pupil at Scoil Iognáid in Galway, wrote her letter as Gaelige. “A Phápa Prionsias, a chara. An airíonn tú mar Phápa gur tú athair ah an dohmain iomlán? Mise le meas, Clara” (Dear Pope Francis, Do you feel like a father to everyone? ). Pope Francis replied “Every priest likes to feel that he is a father.....Yes, Clara, I like being a dad.”

Asked by Natasha (8) from Kenya how Jesus walked on water, the Pope replied “He walked as you walk! He walked, one foot after the other, as if the water were land.....God cannot sink, you know!”

Advised, bluntly, by nine-year-old Dutch twins Hannes and Lidewij that he is “not very young anymore” and asked what more he can do, Pope Francis says he would like to smile more and help those who suffer, before finally admitting “...but I am old and I have very little thread left in the spool...God will tell.”

He tells Prajla from Albania (six) that he loved dancing “really a lot!” when he was a child and advises; “dance now, children, so you won’t be too serious when you grow up!”

‘Tom (eight), from the UK, wanted to know what was the hardest part of his job, to which Pope Francis replied “letting people go is really very difficult for me. I love to trust people....So I really feel bad if I have to send someone away.”

But there is joy in his life too. “I really like soccer,” he tells eight year old Wing from China who asks him why he likes to play the game. He doesn’t .“I have never played serious matches because I never learned the art of the game that well. I don’t have a nimble foot,” he said, but he likes the game “because I see teamwork and unity.”

To play soccer well “you must play together You must play as a team and look for the good of everyone without thinking about your personal gain or showing off. It ought to be this way in the Chuch too!”

Dear Pope Francis (€14.99) is published by Messenger Publications.