The experience of a good book is wonderful. Once you begin, it is hard to put it down. I recently had this experience from an unexpected source: a book for children. I suppose I should have known better, given that it was a book where Pope Francis answered letters from children around the world. But Dear Pope Francis, released March 1st by Loyola Press, is a book for not just for children but for all children of God, even older ones like me.
Original letters from children along with their drawings were collected and given to Pope Francis. All told 259 letters, from 26 countries, written in 14 different languages, were gathered. From those letters 30 questions and answers were bound together in this extraordinary work. The children ask simple, direct questions. But while the questions come from children, they lead to the profound. In their innocence, they cut to the heart of the challenges of Christian life and the issues facing the world today.
Consider the 10 year old from Syria who asks “Will the world be again as it was in the past?” or the 8 year old who asks “What did God do before the world was made?”
There are also touching personal questions, “What makes you happy in your work?”, “Where is your favorite place to pray?” and “Who did you want to be when you were my age?”
In the editorial notes, the interviewer who presented the letters and recorded the Pope’s responses comments that after leafing through the letters, the Pope said “But these are tough questions!” They are. His answers, discernable to children and adults alike, bring clarity to issues of faith, family, and relationships.