NEW YORK: Pope Francis has written his first book for children, replying to 30 probing letters from children around the world and due for release by a US publishing house in March.
Chicago-based Loyola Press, a Jesuit imprint, came up with the idea and got the go-ahead from the pontiff. “Dear Pope Francis” will be published on March 1 in English. An edition will also be available in Spanish.
In compiling the book, the publishing house said it received 259 letters from 26 countries, written in 14 languages.
Thirty of them, written by children aged six to 13, were chosen for the pope to answer from countries as diverse as Albania, China, Syria and the pontiff’s native Argentina.
“What did God do before the world was made?” asks eight-year-old Ryan from Canada.
“If I told you that God was doing nothing before he created the world, I would be wrong,” reads part of the answer from Francis.
“Before creating anything, God loved.”
Alexandra, 10, from the Philippines asks if the pope knows why some parents argue with each other.
“We all argue. We are all human. Even I have argued,” he replied, advising her to help her parents by not talking badly of them.
“Stay close to your mom and dad and speak well of them. That will be good for everyone.”
A group of children whose letters were selected for the book will meet the pope at the Vatican on February 22, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.
“The meeting with the children will be very simple and private,” he added.