Sunday, February 14, 2016

The First Book for Kids by a Pope-Ever

Already in his brief, three-year pontificate Pope Francis has a track record of papal firsts, but on March 1, he will add yet another to his list: authoring a children's book.

Loyola Press
“This book could be useful to the entire family. The questions are deep, fresh, sharp – involving desires of understanding, but also tough feelings and experiences to be faced and lived,” Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ told CNA Feb. 9.

“Ultimately I hope people see that the Pope’s message is universal. Whether his responses are read by children or adults, I hope that his focus on peace, joy, and mercy is understood and felt by all.”

“This book is the very first book by a Pope for children ever,” Fr. Spadaro said, explaining that it’s not just a collection of things he said before in other settings, but is “something original, thought (of) as a book with answers to questions, but also drawings.”

Once the Pope agreed to participate, things got going, he said. Loyola Press immediately reached out to both priests and lay people around the world in order to put the publisher in contact with children who would write the letters.

The 259 letters that arrived to the Vatican came from across the globe, including countries such as Albania, China, Nigeria, the Philippines and a school for displaced children in Syria.

Fr. Spadaro affirmed that the responses given “are the Pope's words,” and noted that at one point, before his trip to the United States last September, Francis was reading the children’s’ questions, and admitted that “these are tough.”

When the book is published March 1, it will be released in 14 languages, including English, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Hungarian and French, though Fr. Spadaro said he expects the number to grow.

On Feb. 22, eight children whose letters appear in the book, plus a few siblings, met with Pope Francis in a private audience at the Vatican. They will present him with the finished book, as well as all 259 letters collected for the project.

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