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Galway girl appears in pope’s new book

The Primate of All-Ireland has offered his congratulations to a young Irish girl who appears in Pope Francis’ new book.

The Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin recommended the Holy Father’s book to families across Ireland, explaining that while it may be a children’s book it “appeals to the child in all of us”.

Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children around the world is an anthology of letters from children seeking answers from Pope Francis and includes a letter from a young Galway girl.

“I congratulate Clara aged eleven from Galway, whose letter to Pope Francis is published in the book,” Archbishop Martin said during the Irish launch of the book at St Patrick’s Primary School, Loughgall Road, Armagh. “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.”

The archbishop explained that he was delighted to be launching the book and it felt special to be doing it in a school named after patron saint, St Patrick, especially as it was so close to his feast day. “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,” he said.

He pointed out that the love that the children of the world have for Pope Francis also shines through in the letters and in the beautiful images that 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.”

Archbishop Martin admitted that many would be drawn to the amusing questions, such as, ‘When you were a child, did you like dancing?’ or ‘Why do you like to play soccer?’ However, he noted that there were also moving questions, such as one by seven-year-old Luca from Australia.

Luca 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.’

“Pope Francis never comes across as a ‘know-it-all’,” the archbishop pointed out. “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!”

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