Heartsick Boy Asks If His Atheist Dad is in Heaven. Pope Francis Shares the Answer and a Hug

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After the death of his father, a young boy was seeking answers to some tough questions. On Sunday, the child, referred to as Emanuele, met Pope Francis during one of his papal visits. As Francis was fielding questions from the children of a parish, Emanuele stepped forward and asked Francis a teary-eyed question.

Initially, the boy froze after approaching the microphone, seeming to struggle to find the words. But, according to a report by the Huffington Post, Francis encouraged him to step forward and whisper the question directly to him.

Francis could be seen giving Emanuele a hug as they shared some quiet words. Then, Emanuele headed back to his seat.

The pope stated that Emanuele had given his permission to share the details of their conversation.

Francis informed the crowd that Emanuele was crying because of the recent passing of his father and that he told Francis his dad was a good man but also an atheist. The child even said that his father had all four of his children baptized.

“Is Dad in heaven?” Emanuele asked Francis.

“A boy that inherited the strength of his father also had the courage to cry in front of all of us,” said the pope. “If this man was able to create children like this, it’s true that he is a good man.”

Francis continued, “That man did not have the [gift] of faith, wasn’t a believer. But he had his children baptized. He had a good heart.”

The Pope explained that God chooses who goes to heaven and asserted that God had “the heart of a father.” Francis then addressed the children in the audience and asked if they believed that God would abandon Emanuele’s father, who was a good man.

“No,” the children replied.

“There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” said Francis. “God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier as a believer to baptize your children than to baptize them when you are not a believer. Surely this pleased God very much.”