In a question and answer session with children this week, Pope Francis was addressed by a little boy overcome with emotion.
Francis beckoned the child forward, and on camera and in public, listened to the child’s story privately.
Follow the link to see the video: https://youtu.be/cwREgr43_x0
Here’s a translation of the Pope’s words:
If only all of us could cry as Emanuele does when we have pain in our hearts. He was crying for his father, which he had the courage to do in front of us, because in his heart there is the love of his father. I asked permission of Emanuele to speak in public about his question and he said yes. “A little while ago I lost my father. He was atheist but had all four of his children baptized. He was a good man. Is he in Heaven?”
How beautiful that a child says of his father, “He was good.” A beautiful testimony for that man to give to his children that they can say, “He was good.” And a beautiful testimony from that child who inherited the strength from his father that he had the courage to cry in front of all of us. If that man was able to make children like this one, then it’s true, he was a good man, a good man.
That man didn’t have a day of faith, he wasn’t a believer, but he had his children baptized. He had a good heart. And he [Emanuele] has the doubt that his father, for not being a believer, could not go to Heaven. He who decides who gets to Heaven is God. But how is the heart of God in front of a father like that? What does it seem to you, the heart of a father? God has the heart of a father and in front of a father who is a non-believer, who was able to baptize his children, who gave his goodness to his children, you think that God would be able to leave him far away from Himself? Answer loudly, with courage! [Crowd cheers “no!] Does God abandon His children? [Crowd shouts “no!”] Does God abandon His children when they are good? [Crowd shouts “no!”]
Here you go, Emanuele, there is your answer. God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier, being a believer, to baptize your children, than it is to baptize them if you are not a believer. Surely this pleased God very much. Speak to your father, pray for him. Thank you Emanuele, for your courage.
I was attending a Lutheran Brethren church when I first came to faith; having been raised without faith. I was in college, and had been baptized as an infant. The pastor of the church suggested that I should become baptized as an adult, since my parents hadn’t raised me in the faith.
One of the dear saints of the church asked the pastor if all of the rest of the congregation, baptized as infants, needed to be baptized as adults as well. He replied that my parents hadn’t kept their part of the covenant with God that was made at my baptism. The dear saint replied, ‘Marty’s parents did not keep their side of the Covenant, but surely God kept His side–Marty is here, now.”
Several years later, in another city and a different denomination I was baptized, as a public statement of my faith.