May 30, 2009.
It wasn’t your routine papal audience this past week. The pope received 7,000 children in the Vatican and they were allowed to ask him questions, some with no fear at all.
A young Italian girl quite innocently asked the pontiff if as a child he ever thought his life would lead to where he is now.
Did you ever think you would become pope?
I must say, I still find it difficult to understand how the Lord thought of me for this path, this ministry. But, I accept it even if it is something incredible, and I think far beyond my strength. But the Lord helps me.
Twelve-year-old Anna from Calabria, Italy, told the pope about a friend of hers whose father is Italian and mother is Ecuadorian.
She asked him if he thought the day would come when people of different cultures would live side by side in peace.
Do you think different cultures can one day live together without fighting?
The pope answered nostalgically with a story of his own childhood experience when his family moved to another town in Germany
Just before elementary school, we moved to a different town. Naturally, we were foreign to them, because even our dialects were different. In my new school there were different social backgrounds and they were obvious to all. But there was a good rapport between us. They taught me their dialect that I didn’t know. Naturally, we sometimes fought but then we would make up. It’s important to know the art of reconciliation, of forgiveness and of starting over leaving no room in our hearts for rancor.
Benedict also spoke to the children about the importance of prayer, and to get in the habit of praying twice a day - in the morning and at night.
The children were part of the Pontifical Society of Missionary Children. After their meeting with the pope, they went on to the basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls where they renewed their baptismal vows and their missionary committement to their peers.