(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has met with several of the children who wrote him letters for his new book, “Dear Pope Francis,” which was presented to him during the meeting.
The young people were accompanied by the President of Caritas Internationalis, Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, and the editor-in-chief of the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, who helped Pope Francis with the book.
During the encounter – involving children from Italy, the Philippines, India, Kenya, Australia, Argentina, the United States, Canada, Singapore, Ireland, Belgium, and China – the Holy Father said the questions asked for the book were some of the “most difficult” he had ever been asked.
Pope Francis then proceeded to answer more questions the children had.
Listen to the report by Charles Collins:
He said his favourite thing about being Pope was “being around people,” adding he “learned something every time” he met someone new.
He told another child that when he was young he wanted to be a butcher, since when he went to the market with his mother, the butcher’s work was fascinating and “the way he cut the meat, that was art.”
One young person caused some indecision on the part of Pope Francis by asking who was his favourite saint: “I have several saints friends, but I do not know which I admire the most,” – the Holy Father said – “but I'm a friend of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus; I am a friend of St. Ignatius; I'm a friend of St. Francis…I would say these three, perhaps, are the ones I most keep in my heart.”
He said being Pope gives him a sense of “calm,” and said that it is “a grace from God,” adding that it “feels as I am coming to the end of my life with so much peace.”
The Holy Father said when he was elected, Cardinal Hummes told him to “not worry, it is the work of the Holy Spirit,” and told him to “not forget the poor.”
When asked about his love for Jesus, Pope Francis said “I do not know if I truly love Jesus. I try to love him, but I am sure that He loves me. I’m quite certain of this.”
Pope Francis said being Pope is “both easy and difficult, as is the life of any person,” explaining “it’s easy because you have a lot of people to help you…and there are difficult moments because there are difficulties in all the work there is.”
Pope Francis was also asked about his prayer life.
“I pray in the morning when I wake up: The prayer book all priest pray, called the breviary,” he said. “I pray the Mass, then I pray the Rosary…and then in the afternoon, I take time for Eucharistic Adoration.”
The Pope encouraged the children to always carry a rosary with them, and added he also carries a Via Crucis in his pocket, because it is a reminder that Jesus also suffered and this helps him to be “more good, and less bad.”
At the end of the encounter, Pope Francis addressed the issue of “Why do children suffer?” saying it is question which causes him great pain, and he admitted he did not know the answer to the question.
“The only thing that gives me light is looking at the cross, and seeing what Jesus suffered; it is the only answer I can find,” he said.