Pope Francis latest book, Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters From Children Around the World, has made the New York Times Best Seller List, May 2016. It features a letter from a young Irish school girl and it is published by Irish Messenger Publications and Loyola Press USA.
The book is the brain-child of the Jesuit publishing company in Chicago, Loyola Press, headed up by Belfast-born Jesuit Paul Campbell who is delighted with the news. “We knew sales were very high across the US and this confirmation that we are #5 on the NYT list is a real boost to all those involved in the making of this gem of a book The announcement means we can stick the coveted gold label ‘New York Times Best Seller’ on all our copies and since we’ve done that sales and orders have rocketed. Amazon have confirmed that we’re in their top ten most popular books which is really great news as well.”
Messenger Publications Editor Donal Neary SJ confirms that Irish sales have also been excellent. “Children and adults love it, and we’ve sold lots as first communion and confirmation presents – a special keepsake that will be there as a memento after the communion money is long spent.”
Twelve-year-old Clara O’Gormain from Galway and hundreds of children from countries around the world including Syria, Australia, Nigeria, each wrote a letter to the Pope asking him their own personal questions. Thirty-one children had their letters and drawings chosen by the Pope and he has replied individually to each child in a unique book illustrated by the children themselves.
Clara and the children were flown to Rome for a special meeting with the Pope where she gave him a present of a tin whistle. “He was very kind to us but what I like most was that he took our questions seriously when he answered them – sometimes adults don’t do that with children”, she said in an interview about the book and her meeting. (Listen to full interview here)
Clara is a pupil of Scoil Iognáid in Galway and wrote her letter as Gaeilge and well as in English. She asked the Pope if he felt like a father to everyone? And he concluded his answer with ‘Yes Clara, I like being a Dad!’
Messenger Editor Fr Donal Neary SJ, says he’s not surprised that sales of the book worldwide are so high because in it the Pope expresses a deep theology very simply as he responds to the huge variety of questions so typical of young imaginations. “It’s full of the joy that we associate with the Pope, like when Prajla from Albania (age 6) asks, ‘Dear Pope Francis, when you were a child, did you like dancing?’ And the Pope replies that he always loved dancing even as a child and as a young adult he loved to do the tango. And he concludes that people who can’t express joy ‘become sick with too much seriousness… so dance now children so you won’t be too serious when you grow up!’”
But there are deeper, sadder moments too, says Donal Neary. Luca (age 7) from Australia had to deal with the death of his mum and he asks, ‘Dear Pope Francis, my mum is in heaven. Will she grow angel wings?’ “And it’s tragic to read ten-year-old Mohammed from Syria who asks ‘Dear Pope Francis, Will the world be again as it was in the past?’” says Donal Neary.
Nonetheless, he adds, “It’s a book that delights adults as well as children, and speaks from the heart to both. That’s why it’s on the New York Times best seller list”.
Dear Pope Francis published by Messenger Publications, priced at €14.99/€11.99.