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Thursday, February 25, 2016

"Love before the world": the Pope answers questions from children

Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – "L'amore prima del mondo" ("Love before the world") is the title of a book published by Rizzoli, in the form of 31 letters and drawings sent to the Holy Father by children from various Jesuit institutions from all five continents, asking for advice and explanations, and Francis' replies.

The title is drawn from the Pope's answer to the question, "What did God do before the world was made?". The eighty pages of the volume consist of a dialogue between Francis and the Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, director of La Civilta Cattolica, who took the children's letters and drawings the Domus Sanctae Marthae last summer and to ask for a response. The Pope accepted the proposal and the resulting book has been released in Italian bookshops today. It will shortly be available in other languages.

Francis answers questions on a wide variety of issues, such as how Jesus managed to walk on water: "God doesn't sink", and why He created us if He knew we were going to sin against Him: Because God created us like Him. Free. And being free includes the possibility of sinning. … Freedom can be frightening because it cannot be planned. But it is beautiful and it is the greatest gift". In response to questions from the youngest children regarding the devil and guardian angels, the Pope recalls the importance of liturgy of prayer, or evokes the fantastic imagination of the young: "God defeated the devil on the cross. The devil is like the big scary dragons who are defeated and killed. They have a very long tail which, even if they are beaten and killed, continues to move".

There are also questions regarding war and atrocities; for instance, a child from Nigeria asks how these conflicts could be resolved. "It is necessary to encourage people of good will to speak against war. I cannot solve the conflicts in the world, but you and I can try to make this a better world. We need to convince everyone that the best way to win a war is not to enter into one. It is not easy, I know. But I try. You can try too".

A child from China wants to know why the Pope likes football. "I have never learned well the techniques of the game", admits Francis. "I don't have agile feet. But I like to see the team on the field because it is a game of solidarity". In response to a boy from the United Kingdom asks, "What was your hardest choice in your mission for faith?", the Holy Father replies, "There are many hard choices, but I have to say that the type of decision that is most difficult for me is to remove someone from a responsible job or a position of trust, or a path they are following, for reasons of unsuitability".

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