Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pope Stumped: Why does God allow children to suffer?

Unlike the Yahoo story, I am quite sure Pope Francis wasn't stumped or surprised by the 12-year old question. Neither was Francis the only one who knew how to respond to such a question but most of us really would be stumped.

The Pope is a very public figure and for those who gets it, he actually answered the question almost you might think his Lord would have given the same answer.

The greatest poverty in the world Mother Teresa said in countless speeches is the poverty of love. So when the Pope saw an embodiment of that great poverty the answer is compassion, and he told others to do the same.

Through tears and love, with much prayer that is not visible beforehand the answer will come. Not once, but over the days, months and years until the end of your life and to the end of time.

It's a lifetime answer.

Here is a sample of too common foolish and loveless response we often see. This is taken from a response to Yahoo's article.

But we should not be surprise that people are like that. Clueless to them but several degrees of freedom removed they contributed to the plight this 12-year old girl and countless others.

This child's question did not invite an answer to of the sort why the sky is blue. It must be answered actively, sacrificially with loving action. Well fools do not know they are and so they are very public about their foolishness.

Now here is Nicholas Kristof apt and compassionate response as a journalist who had witnessed much human tragedy and told us what he had often seen. He gets it.

Meanwhile some Singaporeans will look at this Pope and also to their caring government and try to reconcile the two. But for much of  the world, most people don't even bother to answer if their government care.

So what is love? It is the most misunderstood word in the world. It is also the great test to tell the wise from the foolish too.

Update: Jan 23, 2:20pm


  1. I am very sure those naive critics have no clue how to answer the question if they are ever posed. Maybe they would not have bothered with such issue in the first place - because if they are really God-loving, they would have done exactly what the Pope had. Instead of making nasty remarks (psychologically to clear themselves of any "defect"), go embrace and comfort the suffering. Didn't Jesus do the same when he wept with those who had suffered? And like Jesus, we know by oneself we cannot correct the situation but will influence everyone (who cares - not those critics no doubt) to take heed and respond to the problem. Try a little kindness!

  2. Pengyu, let me share with you some extracts from http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1500240.htm
    "Sometimes we're too 'machista' and don't allow room for the woman," he said. "But the woman is able to see things with a different eye than men. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand."
    "Pay attention," the pope told the young people. Palomar was "the only one who posed a question for which there is no answer. And she wasn't able to express it in words but tears."
    "When the next pope comes to Manila," he told them, include "more women" on the program.Speaking directly to Palomar, he told her, "You have expressed yourself so bravely."
    While it is impossible to explain why God would allow children to suffer, he told the young people, "only when we, too, can cry" can one approach a response.
    "I invite each one of you here to ask yourself, 'Have I learned to weep and cry when I see a child cast aside, when I see someone with a drug problem, when I see someone who has suffered abuse?" the pope told them.
    Being moved to tears out of compassion and in the face of the mystery of suffering is holy, he said. It is not the same thing as crying to manipulate or get something from someone.
    "Jesus in the Gospel cried, he cried for his dead friend," Lazarus, "he cried in his heart for the family that had lost its child, he cried in his heart when he saw the old widow having to bury her son, he was moved to tears of compassion when he saw the multitude of crowds without a pastor," Pope Francis said.
    "If you don't learn how to cry you cannot be good Christians," he told them.
    In the face of suffering like Palomar's and Chura's, he said, "our response must either be silence or the word that is born of our tears."
    "Be courageous, do not be afraid to cry," the pope said.
    Francis focused on love, compassion and the challenge of not just helping the poor, but allowing oneself to learn from and be evangelized by them.
    "What is the most important subject that you have to learn in university, what is the most important subject you learn in life?" the pope asked. "To learn to love. This is the challenge that life offers you."
    "True love is to love and allow yourself to be loved," he said. "It is harder to let yourself be loved than to love."
    Even when it comes to the life of faith, he said, it seems easier to love God than to really allow oneself to be loved by him. But when one succeeds, he continued, God responds with surprises.
    "Don't be like a computer, thinking that we know everything," the pope said.
    Pope Francis thanked Macolor and his friends for helping the poor victims of
    Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, but he asked them, "Do you allow yourselves to receive?" Putting his finger to his lips, the pope said he didn't want them to respond immediately, but to ponder the other, essential Christian part of being with the poor, which is being willing to learn from them and to accept their gifts.
    "The Sadducees and doctors of the law in the time of Jesus gave much to the people, they gave them the law and taught them, but they never allowed the people to give them something," he said.
    "Become a beggar," the pope said. "Learn how to beg," to receive with humility, "to be evangelized by the poor. The persons we help, the poor, the sick have so much to give us."

    1. Thanks! As I am not Roman Catholic so I do not read its news unless pointed to. However without the benefit we are already in complete agreement. That's the Spirit of Christ breaking down walls.

  3. The best way to change the world is to look inside yourself and start the changes there, everyday. Trying to change the world without reciprocal changes in yourself is applying a band-aid. It can put arrest the bleeding, which is necessary, but only for a while. The cure comes from somewhere else, not the band-aid.

  4. There is something amiss with the narrative that there is a creator god. It leads to such confounding, 'unanswerable' questions as "why god allow children to be prostitutes?"
    The truth is: there is much suffering and pain. Trying to frame this truth within the framework of a creator god (and a so-called loving one at that) leads to confusion.

    1. You are right until you find your personal answer. That is why I wrote about the answer coming daily, weekly, yearly till your time here is done in the blog post.

      God will always ask, "Who do you think I am?" You will get deeper and deeper answers. Along the way some mature into a person like Pope Francis.

      But life is too short to get clear enough answers unless God made himself as human first. That was the breakthrough regardless of your religion or no religion.

    2. Perhaps the problem lies with the narrative itself: that there is such a god; problematic also the many who speak on his/her behalf.


      To me what the Buddha said makes much sense: that there is suffering, that there are causes that lead to such suffering, that we can come to know and understand the causes, that there pathways to tread to lessen the suffering and to eventually become free of such suffering. So in a deep way the Buddha is saying we all can do something about it and not have to wonder if a creator god had made it (the mess of suffering) all possible in the first place.

      Indeed life is short; we need to find narratives that make sense, that lead to clearer seeing. To me such a question "why god allow children to be prostitutes?" stems from problematics within the framework of beliefs, world view itself, that lead to confusion.


    3. Yes, you can be on the Buddha path as it seems to me satisfies you especially the cognitive part. But Pope Francis was reaching out way beyond that into realms where words are insufficient and with the power to touch a sufferer at the deep level and leave with her the possibility that she will find God in a personal way over an extended time. Well I am peeling away to the next layer of the onion from my earlier response.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. Good on you PengYou. Peeling away the layers of the onion can lead to much crying and in the end you'd be left with emptiness (Śūnyatā); peel on my friend.
      Best, Fai

    6. Empty if you stop too soon but not for Pope Francis or some of us. At the core of the onion is the Dark Night but you must read that in the original language. Go read St John of the Cross or Teresa of Avila.

  5. The only way to fight child prostitution is to be touched by the priest through secret confession in the sacred room

  6. It is sad that people like to play up on the pedophile issue. It is not restricted to the priest or monk - and to enjoin those who want to use the issue to cast mud on the many good works performed by people who take on the religious vocation.

    Religious or not, it is only human to ask the purpose of life. In trying to do our best in all the ordinary ways of daily life, based on the virtues of integrity and contentment, we discover the meaning of life and more so, enable others to do the same irrespective of whether they are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist .... atheist or agnostic.

    In not asserting one's belief on others (let the one with no sin casts the first stone) we help others to see the presence of a "greater force" beyond the human person for which life on planet earth takes on a worthy cause.

  7. a sharing - just uploaded is a 2-min video shot on the plane enroute to Rome from Manila when the Pope gave some very down-to-earth sharings with the reporters particularly on responsible parenthood and corruption


  8. Wear white but full of bloody stain on your hands

  9. Someone again must be very antiCatholic here. Or he is implying some other white-clothed people?? Remarks like these are no different from what the Charlie cartoonists make - not sure he would dare to make like statements at Muslims. Try a little kindness - and stop being a bigot. It does not help the world a bit

  10. Why do you label a factual answer as foolish or loveless? To some, there is/are god/gods. To many, there are no gods.

    The question should be, why does the government, or police, allow prostitution.

    1. You are probably aware that if they could governments would forbid prostitution but any who had tried found it was worse than tolerating and limiting it. Governments are usually practical. We, the media and experts often with no skin in the game are often not.

  11. Well said, PengYou. It is naive to imagine if the government bans everything, the world will be perfect. Goodness starts from within each person - don't point finger at others for any wrong done. Remember when one points the index finger out, there are more than one on the same hand that point back to oneself. God or no god, religion or no religion, whether one condones prostitution or not depends on how one respects the other person.