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Primate pays tribute to children’s faith

By Sarah Mac Donald - 02 March, 2016

Archbishop Eamon Martin reads to Erin, 11, and Eoin, 11, Primary 7 pupils at St Patrick's Primary School Armagh at the Launch of "Dear Pope Francis". Photo: LiamMcArdle.com

Archbishop Eamon Martin reads to Erin, 11, and Eoin, 11, Primary 7 pupils at St Patrick’s Primary School Armagh at the Launch of “Dear Pope Francis”. Photo: LiamMcArdle.com

The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, has said Pope Francis’ new children’s book “appeals to the child in all of us” as he recommended it to the families of Ireland.

Launching ‘Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children around the world’ at St Patrick’s Primary School, Loughgall Road in Armagh on Tuesday, the Archbishop said that in his responses to letters from children around the world on matters of faith, life and love, Pope Francis never comes across as a ‘know-it-all’.

He said it was evident in the book that the Pope is searching like all of us. “We are also reminded by his responses that we are all children before God,” the Archbishop of Armagh said.

From reading through the questions from the children, he detected parallels in the questions that many of us still think about as adults: questions about the loss of a loved one, on how we might settle struggles in the world and bring peace, and questions about how God listens to us and hears us.

He acknowledged that many people will be immediately drawn to some of the more amusing questions which are asked of the Pope in the book such as ‘When you were a child, did you like dancing?’ or ‘Why do you like to play soccer?’

Others will be moved by the question from seven year old Luca from Australia who asks: “Dear Pope Francis, My Mum is in heaven. Will she grow angel wings?”

He added that they will equally be moved by the answer from Pope Francis who writes, “She hasn’t grown wings. She is still your mom, the person you know, but she is more radiant than ever. And she watches you and smiles at you as her son.”

Archbishop Martin congratulated 11 year old Clara from Galway whose letter to Pope Francis is published in the book.

Pic: LiamMcArdle.com

Pic: LiamMcArdle.com

She asks the Pope in Irish: “An airíonn tú mar Phápa gur tú athair ag an domhain iomlán?”

She wants to know if Pope Francis feels like a father to everyone. He replies that he does like the role of father figure.

“While this is a book for children, teachers, parishes and schools, I particularly recommend it to the families of Ireland as a beautiful gift directly from Pope Francis,” he said as he invited families to read it together and to talk to each other about the matters of faith it raises.

The publishers received 259 questions from 26 countries in 14 languages.

The book’s editor, Fr Paul Campbell, SJ, then sat down with a committee and chose the questions to send the Pope.

He told Vatican Radio, “One of the lines we use to describe this book is: Little children have big questions.”

“Yes they are questions from little children, but they are very, very profound questions,” Fr Campbell said and added, “The Holy Father was very clear that it was terribly difficult to answer these questions.”

The Jesuit priest said one thing that comes out of reading the book is the Holy Father’s profound sensitivity to the suffering of children around the world.

William from the US asked the Pope if you could cause one miracle…what would it be?

To which the Ponitff responded, “To stop the suffering of children.”

“The Holy Father wants to reach out to children and adults to everyone who experiences suffering – which means all of us – to tell us that he does not understand suffering, that he cannot explain it, but that he does believe that Jesus did suffer for us, and that is the only thing that gives him hope and comfort,” Fr Campbell said.

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