Tuesday 20 January 2015

Girl asks Pope Francis how could God allow child prostitutes

Agence France-Presse, 18 Jan 2015

A weeping 12-year-old Philippine girl, asking how God could allow children to become prostitutes, moved Pope Francis yesterday to hug her and appeal for everyone to show more compassion.

Glyzelle Palomar, a one-time homeless child taken in by a church charity, made her emotional plea during ceremonies at a Catholic university in Manila, ahead of a mass by the pope.

"Many children are abandoned by their parents. Many children get involved in drugs and prostitution," Palomar told the pope alongside a 14-year-old boy who also used to be homeless. "Why does God allow these things to happen to us? The children are not guilty of anything."

Palomar broke down and wept, prompting the pontiff with a man-of-the-people reputation to take her into his arms and hug her for a few seconds. He later discarded most of his prepared speech that he was to give in English, reverting back to his native Spanish to deliver an impromptu and heartfelt response.

"She is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer and she wasn't even able to express it in words but in tears," the pope, 78, told a crowd that organisers said reached 30,000. "The nucleus of your question ... almost doesn't have a reply."

The pope, in the Philippines for a five-day visit, told those in the crowd that they first had to learn to cry with other marginalised and suffering people.

He also said Palomar's question showed women were not adequately represented in society. "Women have much to tell us in today's society. Sometimes, we are too machista and we don't allow room for the woman," he said. "Women are capable of seeing things with a different angle from us. Women are able to pose questions that we men cannot understand."

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