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Pope answers questions on suffering, evil in broadcast interview

Catholic World News - April 22, 2011

In an unprecedented broadcast interview that aired in Italy on Good Friday, Pope Benedict XVI answered a series of questions from the public, mostly on the subjects of suffering and evil.

The Holy Father answered 7 questions in the pre-recorded session. The questions came from people in Japan, Iraq, Ivory Coast, and Italy. Vatican Radio provided a full transcript of the questions and the Pope's answers.

Most of the questions came from individuals who were experiencing some unusual suffering. In response to a Japanese girl's query about the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in her nation, the Pope acknowledged the mystery of evil and suffering:

Why is it this way? Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease? And we do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent, and that the true God who is revealed in Jesus is by your side.

To an Italian woman whose son is living in a long-term coma, the Pope reaffirmed the innate value of human life, saying simply: "Certainly his soul is still present in his body."

Pope Benedict also touched on theological themes in answering questions about Christ's death. He told one questioner that the "descent into hell" should not be understood "as a geographical or spatial trip." Rather, he said:

This word about the Lord's descent into Hell mainly means that Jesus reaches even the past, that the effectiveness of the Redemption does not begin in the year 0 or 30, but also goes to the past, embraces the past, all men and women of all time.

Responding to another question about Christ's glorified body after the Resurrection, the Pontiff said: "In the Eucharist, the Lord gives us His glorified body, not flesh to eat in a biological sense. He gives us Himself, this newness that He is in our humanity, in our being as person."

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