The new book with kids’ question for the Holy Father will be a wonderful read. I intend to get a copy ASAP – let’s see what those “big questions are that the young ones ask Pope Francis.
AUTHORITY MUST SERVE COMMON GOOD
Pope Francis dedicated the weekly general audience to his recurring theme of mercy as expressed in the Bible, and underscored the need for Christians to have a proper disposition towards the goods of the earth. He said, “they serve the common good if used in accordance with the demands of justice, charity and mercy, but become a source of corruption and death if used selfishly and arrogantly.” To this end, the Holy Father highlighted the Biblical account of Naboth, a man unjustly put to death so that King Ahab might take possession of his property.
Departing from his prepared text, the Pope recommended a slim, powerful volume by St. Ambrose of Milan, the great 4th century bishop and Doctor of the Church, as especially pertinent and helpful reading for Lent. “This is not a story from other times,” said Francis. “It is a story of today, as well, a story of the powerful who exploit the poor, who exploit the people for their own gain. It is the story of human trafficking, of slave labor, of poor people who work ‘under the table’ and for a pittance in order to enrich the powerful – it is the story of corrupt politicians who want more and more. For this, I said it would do us well to read St. Ambrose’s book on Naboth – because it is a book about current events.”
The story of Naboth teaches us what happens when authority is exercised “without respect for life or justice and without mercy. Here we see where the thirst for power leads: it becomes avarice, the desire to possess everything.” Francis gave the example of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “who was not a communist”, when he observed the avidity of the rich landowners who sought to acquire more and more houses and land. “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land.”.
He explained that, “God is greater than evil and the dirty games human beings play, and in His mercy He sends the prophet Elijah to help Ahab convert. The king, faced with his sin, is humbled and asks for forgiveness. How good it would be if today’s powerful exploiters were to do likewise!” exclaimed Francis. “The Lord accepts his penance, but an innocent man was killed and this inevitably has consequences. Indeed, the evil committed leaves painful traces, and the history of mankind bears the scars.” (VIS), Vatican Radio)
“LITTLE CHILDREN HAVE BIG QUESTIONS” FOR POPE FRANCIS
(VR) Pope Francis has answered 30 questions presented to him from children from around the world. Loyola Press is publishing the responses in a book due to be published on 1 March called Dear Pope Francis
The United States-based Jesuit publishing house approached Pope Francis about the idea last year, and received a positive response. They then asked Jesuits from around the world to collect questions from children aged 6-13, including Catholics and non-Catholics. They also asked the children to send drawings, which are included in the book.
They 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.
“One of the lines we use to describe this book is: Little children have big questions,” Fr. Campbell told Vatican Radio.
“Yes they are questions from little children, but they are very, very profound questions,” – Fr. Campbell said – “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.
“I believe it was William from the United States who asked the question if you could cause one miracle…what would it be? And the Holy Father said ‘to stop the suffering of children’,” – Father Campbell explained – “and it is very clear to me that the Holy Father’s heart is full of compassion for those who suffer.”
This book is only a small way of giving suffering people hope.
“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,” Father Campbell said.