Kids’ questions to Pope become book

  • February 6, 2016

VATICAN CITY - Children may say the darnedest things, but when it comes to questions about faith they can make even the most learned parents and priests pause.

“These are tough,” Pope Francis said when presented with questions from 30 children from around the world.

The questions, illustrated with the drawings of the children aged six-13, and the Pope’s answers will be published March 1 as the book Dear Pope Francis.

“What did God do before the world was made?” a Canadian child asked. “Do bad people have a guardian angel, too?” asked another.

In the book, co-ordinated and published by the U.S.-based Loyola Press, Pope Francis responds to those and 28 other queries; some of the questions are theological, others are practical and a few are about the Pope personally, including what he wanted to be when he grew up. To the question about what God was doing before creation, asked by eight-year-old Canadian Ryan, the heart of the Pope’s answer is, “Think of it this way: Before creating anything, God loved. That’s what God was doing: God was loving.”

Questions about Jesus, war and peace and about Heaven also are included.

Some of the personal questions made Pope Francis laugh and the Pope’s answers to those questions made Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, who went through the questions with the Pope, laugh. The Pope admits in the book that when he was small he wanted to be a butcher because the butcher his grandmother bought meat from had an apron with a big pocket that seemed to be full of money.

The children’s questions are “simple, but not silly,” said Spadaro, who discussed them with Pope Francis and recorded his answers.
Spadaro heads the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica. He said he was in awe of how the Pope handled the questions — taking them seriously and responding to them honestly and clearly.

At the request of Loyola Press, Spadaro asked Pope Francis last May if he would be willing to do the book. “The Pope said yes immediately and with enthusiasm,” Spadaro said.

Loyola Press then reached out to dozens of Jesuits and collaborators around the globe, asking them to solicit questions and drawings from children. In the end, 259 children in 26 countries submitted questions..

Pope Francis will have a chance to meet nine or 10 of the children in late February.

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