As reported earlier, Pope Francis began this week meeting with some 7,000 children from around the world. The Holy Father read part of his prepared speech, and then left it aside to allow the children to ask their questions.
With each interchange, the Pope involved the children, having them repeat a certain idea or phrase.
We have edited the q-and-a for length, removing these back-and-forth dialogues, but we share here what the Pope was asked, and how he answered.
While the children are young, some came from lands at war or in conflict (Palestine, Ukraine, Syria, Haiti, Peru, Congo) thus the Holy Father spoke a lot about peace.
Let’s listen to the first question, from Isidora, 9 years old, from Brazil.
Hello, Pope Francis. I’m Isidora. I’m nine years old, from Brazil. Do you think we children can save the Earth?
Yes. Yes, because you are simple and you understand that to destroy the Earth is to destroy us. We must take care of the Earth: do you understand this? If you destroy the Earth, you destroy yourself. Let’s say it all together, slowly, without shouting: […] And you know, because the Earth gives us everything we need to live: it gives you oxygen, it gives you water, it gives you plants, it helps you so much to live. If we destroy the Earth, we destroy ourselves. All together: whoever destroys the Earth, destroys us. All together: to destroy the Earth is to destroy us. Thank you!
Now we have Rania, 12 years old, from Palestine.
Dear Pope Francis, I am Rania and I am of Palestinian descent. I wanted to ask you: if World War III starts, will peace never return?
You asked a question that also touches your land that is suffering so much right now. “If war breaks out…” War has already broken out, dear ones. Listen to this: War has broken out all over the world. Not only in Palestine: it has broken out in southern Africa, it has broken out in Congo, it has broken out in Myanmar, it has broken out all over the world. These are hidden wars. In Mozambique — all over the world. We are experiencing an ugly war, and war takes away our peace and takes away our lives. We have to think a little bit, work for peace. [… ] And this girl, whose name is Rania, her homeland is at war and there is so much suffering. Let’s do one thing: in silence, let’s greet Rania and all the people of her homeland. And you let the people of Palestine know that all the children sent a greeting. Peace is beautiful. […]
Massimo, age 10, from Rome.
Hello, Pope Francis. I’m Massimo and I’m Italian. I wanted to ask you: What do you dream about at night?
… I don’t know what I dream about, because I’m asleep! That’s the way it goes! Sometimes, some dream comes that is a memory of when I was young or I was a child, and I remember these things in a dream. But for the most part, I just sleep. And dreaming is beautiful, it’s beautiful. When we dream about something, there’s something of life in it. […]
Ivan, 9 years old, from Ukraine.
Hello, Pope, I’m Ivan and I’m from Ukraine. Can you explain to us how to make peace?
This is a very difficult question. How do you make peace? Come, come here. How do you make peace? It’s not easy to say. How do you make war? That’s easier, because war is made with hatred, with revenge, hurting the other, and that comes from instinct. But peace, how can we make peace?
Let’s think for a minute about his question, which is very intelligent. His land is at war and he knows how much we need peace. I’m asking the question; let’s think and then see how we answer. How do we make peace? Let’s think in silence. [a moment of silence]
Have you thought about how to make peace? [They answer, “Yes!”] There’s no method for learning how to make peace, no. There’s a gesture: Peace is made by stretching out your hand, stretching out the hand of friendship, always trying to engage other people to walk together. Stretching out your hand
[…] Let’s make a gesture, all together: stretching out a hand, all together, you too, all together. Stretching out your hand, that’s how you make peace, greeting your friends, receiving everyone at home. Peace is made with your heart and with an outstretched hand. […]
Now we have Kim Ngan, age 11, from Vietnam.
Dear Pope, I’m Kim Ngan. I’m 11 years old and from Vietnam. I wanted to understand this: If they didn’t listen to you, who know so much, why should they listen to us, and how can they?
Come, come, stay here. Kim Ngan is from Vietnam, and he asks me how people can listen to you children. People are very worried about so many things, so many things, and they forget to listen to children. But you have to say things as you see them, tell the truth, say what you feel because your voice is needed.
[…] You have to help so that adults will listen to us, that adults will listen to you, and then make adults listen to you because you are messengers of peace. […]
Antrànik, from Syria
Hello, Pope Francis. I’m Antranik and I’m from Syria. Why do you think they kill children during war, and no one defends them?
Why do they kill children during war? I’ve seen in the war reports in the news, how many children have died. They’re innocent, and that shows the evilness of war. Because if they only killed soldiers, that would be another thing; but they kill innocent people, they kill children. Why do they kill children in war? That’s cruel.
Now I’m going to propose something to all of you, to accompany Atranik. Why do they kill children in war? Let’s have a little moment of silence, everybody, and think about the many children killed during war. It’s bad, it’s an injustice. Let’s think about the killed children. [Moment of silence.]
Why do they kill children, during war, and no one defends them? This shows the cruelty of a war: war always is cruel and who “pays the bill?” The children. The innocent are killed. Let us pray together to the Lord for the children. “Our Father who art in Heaven….” Why do they kill children in war? We pray for the children who suffer and are killed in the war. […]
And now Celeste, 9 years old, from Peru.
Dear Pope, my name is Celeste. I’m from Peru and I wanted to know who your friends are.
She’s asking me who my friends are. My friends are the people who live with me at home, they are friends. Then I have many friends outside, in some parishes, even some Cardinals are my friends… They’re friends.
I have the grace of having friends, and this is a grace from God, because a person who has no friends is a sad person. Do you understand? A person who has no friends is a sad person. […]
Now we have seven more questions for the Holy Father. We start with Pauline, from Congo, 12 years old.
Dear Pope, I’m Pauline. I’m from Congo, which you know well. I wanted to ask you, what’s the most important thing you’ve experienced in your life?
… I wouldn’t know what to say, because in my life I’ve had so many important things… Also, to tell the truth, this meeting with you is important in my life, because I meet you, your hopes… But it’s always good to think about the happiest moments we’ve had in life, and to leave the bad ones aside, because we all have had some bad ones. No, [let’s think about] the happy moments. Now, a little bit of silence, and let each one of us think which moment was the happiest in our life. Let’s think in silence. […]
Now we have Sofia, age 9, from the Philippines.
Hi, I’m Sofia and I’m from the Philippines. When you get angry, how do you calm down?
Yeah, sometimes I get angry. But I don’t bite, I don’t bite! How can we calm down? Once, a person who helped me a lot in life, when I was a child, used to tell me, “When you’re angry, before you respond, drink a glass of water.” This is good advice […]
Because you know that when you’re angry, you don’t speak, you bite. And that’s not good. Let’s leave anger to the dogs, but let us try to be meek and not let anger get the best of us. Let’s repeat one more time: when you’re angry, drink a glass of water. Thank you.
Now we have Luxelle, 9 years old, from Africa.
Hello, Pope Francis. I’m Luxelle. Why is it so hot even though it’s autumn?
Your question is very important. You ask: Why is it so hot at this time of year, even though it’s autumn? Ask this question. Do you know why? Because we, the people, are not taking care of creation. We aren’t taking care of nature and nature rebels. We have to learn to take care of creation, to take care of nature and not to soil nature. […]
Now we have Susai, from Samoa Tonga.
Hello, Pope Francis. My name is Susai and I’m from Samoa and Tonga. I would like to ask you, are you concerned about the environment?
You’re from Samoa. She’s asking if I’m concerned about nature. I’m very concerned, because nature is being ruined. Think that at the North Pole now the ice has melted and you can sail. Think that at the South Pole a mass of 200 km2 of ice has fallen off because the Earth is getting warmer. Think that the seas are rising and coming onto the Earth; think that the fish in the sea are ruined because we throw so many things into the sea.
That’s why I am concerned about nature. All of us have to be concerned about nature, and we have to help. For example: if you’re standing in a river or on the beach and you drink a Coke, do you throw the bottle into the river or the sea? Should this be done? [They answer, “No!”] We have to take care of nature, we have to take care of creation — because nature contains us — and not ruin it. I’m concerned about nature, and you should be concerned about nature too. Thank you very much for being concerned about nature. Thank you!
Now we have little Chris, 8 years old, from Haiti.
Good morning, Pope Francis. My name is Chris and I’m from Haiti. Since adults by their behavior are leaving us with a polluted world, from whom should we children learn to respect our planet?
Bonjour! We must learn to take care of the planet — learn from teachers, from professors, also from people who know how to think, from parents, in our family. Take care of creation, because by taking care of creation, we take care of ourselves, who are a part of creation […]
We now have Drew, age 11, from Australia.
Hello, Pope Francis. My name is Drew and I’m from Australia. I was wondering how you spend your time during the day.
What do I do during the day? I work! And there’s a lot of work here. I work by listening to people, organizing things, thinking how to move forward, making things go better. I work: I get up early, pray and work.
Work is a good thing, because — let me tell you something — is someone who doesn’t work, someone who gets used to not working, a good person? Yes or no? [They answer, “No!”] No. Working is healthy. […] We must learn to work always: work gives you dignity. God’s commandment is “earn your bread by your labor,” earn your living, work. Work gives us dignity. […]
Now we have little Salma, 7 years old, from Ghana.
Hello, Pope Francis. I’m Salma and I’m from Ghana and can I ask you a question? How can we keep people from wasting so many things?
She posed a smart question and asked, “How can we keep people from wasting so many things?” Please don’t waste, don’t waste food, because there are people who don’t eat; always use food, don’t throw it away. Food is a grace from God. Each of us must learn not to waste food. […] And if some food is left over at noon, eat it in the evening, but don’t throw it away: throwing away food is an ugly sin. Thank you. Good.
We’ve talked about many beautiful things, but the most beautiful thing that touches your heart is peace, because you don’t want war. You want there to be peace in the world. Now, all together let’s make a sign of peace and shake each others’ hands, one with the other, let’s greet each other. There, let’s greet each other by shaking hands as a sign of peace.