Pope Francis meets a tearful boy who asked, “Is my atheist father in heaven?”
The head of the Roman Catholic church had an emotional moment with the kid during a visit to a parish community in Rome, Aleteia reports.
While meeting young children in catechism courses, the Pope was approached by a crying little boy named Emanuele who wanted to ask a question but was unable to get it out.
Pope Francis encouraged him to whisper it in his ear. He did and the pope responded with a lengthy answer.
Here is a translation of their exchange:
Emanuele: I can’t do it!
Pope Francis: Come, come to me, Emanuele! Come to me and whisper it in my ear. Whisper it in my ear. Come, come, come to me.
[Emanuele goes to Pope Francis and whispers his question in his ear]
Pope Francis: If only all of us could cry like Emanuele when we feel sorrow like he does in his heart. He was crying for his dad, and he had the courage to do it before all of us because he has love for his dad in his heart. I asked Emanuel permission to repeat his question in public, and he said yes. So I’ll say it out loud: “A short time ago, my dad died. He was an atheist, but he had all four of his children baptized. He was a good man. Is Dad in heaven?” What a beautiful thing, that a son says of his father, “He was good.” That man gave a beautiful testimony to his children, for his children to be able to say, “He was a good man.” It’s a beautiful testimony on the part of the son that he has inherited his dad’s strength, and also, that he has had the courage to cry before all of us. If that man was capable of raising children like this, it’s true, he was a good man. He was a good man. That man didn’t have the gift of faith, he wasn’t a believer, but he had his children baptized. He had a good heart. And [Emanuele] is doubting whether or not his dad, not having been a believer, is in Heaven. God is the one who decides who goes to heaven. But how does God’s heart react to a Dad like that? How? What do you think? … A dad’s heart! God has the heart of a father. And faced with a dad, a non-believer, who was able to have his children baptized and to give them that courage, do you think that God would be capable of leaving him far from Him? Do you think so? … Say it loudly, with courage…
Pope Francis: Does God abandon his children?
Pope Francis: Does God abandon His children when they are good?
Pope Francis: There you go, Emanuele, this is your answer. God surely was proud of your dad, because it’s easier to have your children baptized when you are a believer than to have them baptized when you are not a believer. Surely, this pleased God greatly. Talk with your father, pray to your father. Thank you, Emanuele, for your courage.
We’ve spoken about his dad, and our dad is God. Let us all pray to our dad, God.
And now I’ll give you the blessing. May every one of you think of the people you love, the people who care about, the people who care about you, and also those we don’t like and who are a bit like enemies. Let us pray for them too, so the Lord will bless them too. May He bless all of us and enlighten our heart.
This touching moment can be seen in the video above.