Pope Francis recently met with 160 school children from Italy, some of them refugees, as part of the annual initiative called the “Children’s Train” put on by Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and Italian state railways.

Rather than a prepared speech, Pope Francis took questions from the children.

“What it’s like being the Pope?”

“The important thing, in any profession in which life puts you, is that you do not stop being you. So how do I feel as Pope? As a person, like each of you in your profession, in your work. Because I too am a person like you and if I have this job, I have to try to do it in the humblest way and more according to my personality, without trying to do things that are foreign to who I am.”

“Is it tiring to be Pope?”

“God gives the strength to bear his own efforts” and we must carry it out “with honesty, sincerity and work The worst thing, is when we don’t want to feel the Lord close, and opt instead for distance. The secret is: to feel the Lord close. And this accompanies you throughout your life.” 

A poignant exchange came when a boy said to Pope Francis: “I don’t have a question but rather a request: can you come to Ukraine to save all the children who are suffering there now?”

“I think a lot about children in Ukraine, I have sent some Cardinals to help there and be close to all the people, but above all, to the children. I would like to go to Ukraine. But, I have to wait for the right time to do it, because it is not easy to make a decision that could do more harm to the whole world than good. I have to look for the right time to do it. This week I meet with representatives of the Ukrainian government, who are coming to talk about a possible visit of mine there. Let’s see what happens.”

Last month, the Vatican said a proposal for Pope Francis to visit Ukraine is “on the table” and everything needed “seem to be there.”

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