A religious service presided over by the Pope in Vatican City's Paul VI Audience Hall might seem like a fairly stuffy event to children visiting with their parents.
That's probably what Wenzel Wirth, 6, thought as he decided to run up on the stage and begin playing around with Pope Francis, his cardinals, and the guardsmen standing watch.
Pope Francis responded by letting the boy play and delivering an inspirational message to his congregation.
Pope Francis chuckles as boy climbs on stage and interrupts speech www.youtube.com
When Wendell made it onto the stage, his mother tried to come get him, telling the pope he was mute.
Pope Francis told her:
"Let him be, let him be."
OH BOY: Wenzel Wirth, a 6-year-old disabled child, climbed the stairs at the Vatican and inspected the guards, with… https://t.co/N5lqbRJZwN— World News Tonight (@World News Tonight)1543422194.0
The Pope would then deliver this message to his gathered followers, speaking of Wendell:
"But he knows how to communicate, to express himself. And he has something that made me think: He's free. Undiciplined-ly free, but he's free."
Six-year-old Wenzel Wirth, who is unable to speak, ran on stage in the Vatican audience hall during Pope Francis' g… https://t.co/iaazSbnlJE— CBS Evening News (@CBS Evening News)1543476666.0
Pope Francis went on:
"He made me think of myself, 'Am I also so free in front of God?' When Jesus tells us that we have to be like children he is telling us that we need to feel as free as a child feels in front of his parents. I think this is what this child has preached to us all. Let's ask (God) the grace that he may speak."
I'm not Catholic but i really like this pope https://t.co/ZpMyAxEYYu— JR Wilde (@JR Wilde)1543812338.0
Ariel Wirth, Wendell's father, was shocked by the entire encounter. He told reporters:
"It was not planned."
He told the Associated Press that Wendell struggles with behavioral issues but they let him explore the world on his own terms:
"We try to let him be free. He has to express himself, and we live without hiding his problems."
@NBCNews the Pontiff is more patient than I.— Andrew Westwood 🌊 (@Andrew Westwood 🌊)1543460545.0
Similar occurrences have happened in the past, and the Pope always knows exactly how to deal with them:
Little boy steals the show from the Pope youtu.be
Twitter users, religious or not, were inspired by the Pope's grace.
Perhaps we should all aspire to be a little bit more like Wendell—exploring the world without worrying so much about the norms and customs that hold us back. In truth, there's probably a happy middle ground, somewhere in between blind faith and running onstage during the Pope's service. Let's hope we're all able to find it!