Columnists Mark my words

Column: What would you ask the pope?

Mark my words

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

“These are tough questions!”

These words were recently uttered by Pope Francis. Surprisingly, the questions didn’t come from bishops or cardinals or even from inquiring journalists. Instead, the pope was reacting to some 259 letters from 26 countries and six continents written in 14 languages by children. Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, who delivered the questions to Pope Francis, described them as “sharp, clear, even brusque. . . . These questions are also very practical.”

Happily, 30 of these questions — in their original languages along with the children’s artwork — are found in a delightful book recently published by Loyola Press. “Dear Pope Francis” gives another intriguing glimpse into the mind and heart of the pope as he responds to kids, ages 6 to 13, from Canada, China, Syria, Singapore, Russia, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe, to name a few. On the left-hand side of this 71-page book is the question (with an English translation and a picture of the child) and on the right side, the pope’s answer.

Here are just a few of the questions and answers:

João, 10, from Portugal, asks: “What do you feel when you look at the children around you?” Pope Francis replies: “Dear João, I’m happy when I see children. I always feel great tenderness and affection for them. . . . Yes, I feel great hope because every child is our hope for the future of humanity.”

Luca, 7, from Australia, writes: “My mum is in heaven. Will she grow angel wings?” The pope responds: “Dear Luca, No, no, no! Your mom is in heaven — beautiful, splendid, and full of light. 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. Your mom is happy whenever she sees you behaving well. And if you don’t behave, she still loves you and asks Jesus to help you become a better person.”

Michael, 9, from Nigeria, writes: “How can you settle conflicts in the world?” Pope Francis responds: “Dear Michael, We have to help people of goodwill speak about war as something bad. The reason people wage war is to get more power and more money. . . . But there is no magic wand. We have to convince everyone that the best way to win a war is not to wage one. I know that’s not easy. But I’m going to try. And I ask you to try, too.”

William, 7, from the United States, asks: “If you could do one miracle, what would it be?” The pope answers: “Dear William, I would heal children. I’ve never been able to understand why children suffer. . . . Jesus wept, and by weeping, he understood our tragedies. I try to understand, too. . . . I’m not afraid to cry. You shouldn’t be either.”

Prajla, 6, of Albania writes: “When you were a child, did you like dancing?” Pope Francis says: “Very much, dear Prajla! Really a lot! I enjoyed being with other children, playing Ring around the Rosie, but also dancing our traditional dances from Argentina. . . . Then, as a young man, I liked to dance the tango. I really like the tango. You know, dancing expresses joy and happiness. When you are sad, you can’t dance. Usually young people have one great resource: being happy. And for this reason, when you are young, you dance and express the joy in your heart. . . . People who can’t express joy are always serious. Dance now, children, so you won’t be too serious when you grow up!”

Although it won’t take much time to read this book, the pictures of these children, their sincere questions and the pope’s replies will linger with you. Incidentally, part of the book’s $18.95 price will be donated to the needs of displaced children around the world through the Jesuit Refugee Service.

Father Antonio beautifully sums things up in the last paragraph of the book: “I realize that the language of Pope Francis is simple and that he lives in simple words. Because God is simple. The tenderness of God is revealed in his simplicity. One must not complicate God, especially if this complication distances God from people. God is with us, and to be really with us, he has to be simple. The presence of a person is simple. Even the physical presence of Pope Francis has the flavor of simplicity. And this flavor is also in the most profound things he says, as in these responses to the children. I am sure of this: Pope Francis’ responses to these questions will do good for all, and especially for those who refuse to become simple like children.”

So, what are you waiting for? Grab two copies of this book: one for a kid you know (age 6 and up) . . . and one for yourself!

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich


  • Ok so. If anyone can help me understand this plz I welcome all answers,
    K so my mom and her husband kidnapped me from my dad when I was five years old the abuse started immediately first it was just the physical in mental and sexual started soon after my mother used to help him abuse me I used to pee the bed obviously because I was terrified I was a peed that they would rub face in it Child I never understood why we moved so much but now I don’t I do to prevent him from getting caught so here one night during one of our moves. We’re at a rest stop I had to use the bathroom and the middle of the night, They’re asleep me and my sister in the front of the pick up truck while my mom and him in the back in a nice comfy trailer so terrified of the dark so I get out and I run to the bathroom did That rest the rest of his bathrooms I go to the bathroom and I’m coming back and I’m walking fast cause I’m scared now I looked up in the sky and I seen from the shoulders up was Jesus face clear as daylight he said nothing I just seen his face It startled me. I screamed and I was because we didn’t practice religion obviously never talked about it. Nothing like that. The only reason I even knew but remotely what he look like my mother had a picture of the last supper that she should keep in the dining room. I’ve always wanted to know what did that mean? Can anybody help me? Does anybody have any kind of input ?

  • Very confused catholic . I would like to know what does the church say about the three days of darkness . And what does the pope say as well . So many contradictions just need to know from our spiritual leader the Pope and how to folllow all these messages , so we can also help others in a way that does not produce anxiety and despair . hope and preserving our faith in a calm matter . Thank you hope I do get a response . Thank you and Blessings

  • I need to know what words do I use if I need to ask the Pope for his blessing on something that I want to do involving the Holy Mass. I am part of the Gift Bearer Ministry at my church and I want to ask the Pope if I can wear a Gift Bearer Minister Stole when I am presenting the gifts of the wine and hosts to the priest which will be consecrated into the body and blood of Christ,

    Thank You.

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