Statement of Archbishop Eamon Martin for Irish launch of Dear Pope Francis
Saint Patrick’s Primary School, Loughgall Road, Armagh
I am delighted to be able to launch Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children around the world – the new book from our Holy Father in which he responds to letters from children around the world on matters of faith, life and love. It is special to be doing so in a school named for our patron Saint Patrick, and just two weeks before his feast day. It is great to be here in Saint Patrick’s Primary School Armagh today for the launch of this new publication in Ireland.
I have been struck by many of the questions in the book because they show in the children a concern for the world in which they live, a natural childlike curiosity and inquisitiveness, but they also show a profound understanding of why faith is important to so many people. The love that the children of the world have for Pope Francis also shines through in these letters and in the beautiful images which accompany them.
While this is being offered as a children’s book, I think it appeals to the child in all of us. In reading through the questions from the children, I can see parallels in the questions that many of us still think about as adults: questions about the loss of a loved one, on how we might settle struggles in the world and bring peace, and questions about how God listens to us and hears us.
Many people will be immediately drawn to some of the more amusing questions which are asked of the Pope in this book: When you were a child, did you like dancing? or Why do you like to play soccer?
Others will be moved by the question from seven year old Luca from Australia who asks: “Dear Pope Francis, My Mum is in heaven. Will she grow angel wings?” They will equally be moved by the answer from Pope Francis who writes: “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.”
I congratulate Clara aged eleven from Galway, whose letter to Pope Francis is published in the book. Clara writes to the Pope in Irish and asks: “An airíonn tú mar Phápa gur tú athair ag an domhain iomlán?” She wants to know if Pope Francis feels like a father to everyone. He replies that he does like the role of father figure.
Pope Francis never comes across as a ‘know-it-all’. That is evident again in this book where it is clear that he is searching like all of us. We are also reminded by his responses that we are all children before God.
While this is a book for children, teachers, parishes and schools, I particularly recommend it to the families of Ireland as a beautiful gift directly from Pope Francis. I invite families to read it together and to talk to each other about the matters of faith it raises– whether they be great or small!
- Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
- Photographs from today’s photocall are available from Liam McArdle on +447900 107362
- Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children around the worldis a unique anthology of letters from children seeking answers from Pope Francis. Children’s questions about faith and the world are sometimes not given the profile which they deserve and, in return for their wonderfully individual and illustrated letters, Pope Francis has responded to each of the children with inspiring and meaningful answers. Dear Pope Francis shows the Pope’s profound love and respect for children by making time to listen, to see, and to respond from his heart.
- Dear Pope Francisis available nationwide from Messenger Publications and from Veritas bookshops priced at €14.99.