Last year, on a hot August afternoon in Rome, Father Antonio Spadaro SJ met with The Holy Father. Pope Francis greeted Father Spadora with a smile and offered him a drink of apricot juice before beginning their formidable task together. Father Spadora had brought with him 259 letters from 26 countries on six continents, written in 14 different languages, including a letter from Clara in Galway. Each child had illustrated his or her letter with a drawing. Pope Francis sat with Father Spadora and personally answered thirty of the children’s questions (including Clara’s) – although he wished he could answer them all.
During the course of the afternoon Father Spadaro and Pope Francis agreed that many of the questions were tough to answer. The letters were short, sharp, and clear, but they were also very practical. The Pope expressed his wish that all of the children could have been present while he answered their questions but he was very happy to read their questions and study their drawings.
The result of that afternoon’s work is Dear Pope Francis, a unique anthology of letters from children seeking answers from Pope Francis. Often children’s questions on faith and the world can be overlooked but in return for their wonderfully individual and illustrated letters Pope Francis responded to each of the children with inspiring and meaningful answers. Dear Pope Francis shows the Pope’s profound love and respect for children by making time to listen, to see, and to respond from his heart.
Prajla from Albania (age 6): Dear Pope Francis, when you were a child, did you like dancing?
Clara from Galway (age 11): Dear Pope Francis, do you feel like a father to everyone?
Luca from Australia (age 7): Dear Pope Francis, my mum is in heaven. Will she grow angel wings?
Michael from Nigeria (age 9): Dear Pope Francis, how can you settle conflicts in the world?
William from USA (age 7): Dear Pope Francis, if you could do one miracle what would it be?
Pope Francis’s joyful warmth and wisdom shines through in this beautiful gift for parents, grandparents, teachers and children.
Dear Pope Francis will be published on 1 March 2016 by Messenger Publications, priced at €14.99/€11.99. The book is available in Veritas shops nationwide and online on www.veritas.ie.