Pope Francis was moved to embrace a tearful abandoned girl at a university in Manila after she asked why God allows children to become prostitutes.
Glyzelle Palomar wept as she asked the Pope: “Many children get involved in drugs and prostitution. Why does God allow these things to happen to us? The children are not guilty of anything.”
The pontiff, cementing his reputation as a champion of the poor and oppressed, took the 12-year-old in his arms to comfort her.
He was so touched by the girl’s appeal that he abandoned his pre-prepared speech in English and instead responded to the child in Spanish, his native language.
Visibly moved, the Pope said: “She is the only one who has put forward a question for which there is no answer and she was not even able to express it in words but rather in tears.”
Calling on people to show compassion for the marginalised, he continued: “I invite each one of you to ask yourselves, ‘Have I learned how to weep, how to cry when I see a hungry child, a child on the street who uses drugs, a homeless child, an abandoned child, an abused child, a child that society uses as a slave’?”
The girl had been abandoned before being sheltered by a church-run community and was once homeless. She had been welcoming the Pope to the university, but broke down as she asked her emotional question.