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Pope addresses question: ‘Why do children suffer?’

January 19, 2015

After listening to questions from youth, one of whom spoke about life as a street child, Pope Francis departed from his prepared text and spoke about the suffering of children during his January 18 encounter with youth at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

“Only when we too can cry about the things which you’ve said are we able to come close to replying to that question,” the Pope said. “Why do children suffer so much? Why do children suffer? When the heart is able to ask itself and cry then we can understand something.”

He added:

Jesus in the Gospel, he cried. He cried for his dead friend. He cried in his heart for the family that had lost its daughter. He cried when he saw the poor widow having to bury her son. And he was moved to tears, to compassion when he saw the multitude of crowds without a pastor. If you don’t learn how to cry, you can’t be good Christians … And when they pose this question to us, why children suffer, why this and that tragedy occurs in life, our response must either be silence or a word that is born of our tears. Be courageous. Don’t be frightened of crying.

In responses to other questions, the Pontiff spoke about the importance of being surprised by God’s love and urged the youth “to be evangelized by the poor.”

“Those we help, the infirm, the orphans-- they have so much to offer us,” Pope Francis said. “Have I learned how to beg also for that? Or do I feel self-sufficient, and I am only going to offer something. You give and think that you have no need of anything. Do you know that you too are poor? Do you know your poverty and the need that you receive? Do you let yourselves be evangelized by those you serve, let them give to you?”


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  • Posted by: FredC - Jan. 20, 2015 4:03 PM ET USA

    The pope seems to be saying that there is no rational answer so just cry (sympathize) with them as they suffer. We might add: Suffering makes people be concerned about others. It also reminds us that we are, or at least should be, on the road to heaven. Heaven is not here on earth.