Pope’s hug of little Rhode Island boy with cerebral palsy warms hearts

Pope Francis “bestowed an extraordinary Easter blessing’’ on a Rhode Island family when he hugged their son with cerebral palsy following the Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square, the boy’s grateful father said.

The photo of Francis hugging 9-year-old Dominic Gondreau went viral, splashed across the pages of the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and was featured on NBC Nightly News, Fox News, and ABC Nightly News, to name a few.

Dominic Gondreau’s father, Paul Gondreau, is a theology professor at Providence College, and is working for the college in Rome for the semester with his wife and five children, including Dominic.


In an entry posted on catholicmoraltheology.com, Paul Gondreau recounted the experience, saying the pope spotted his son while touring the square in the Popemobile, and the hug moved the family and many others to tears. The moment was broadcast in big screens in the square and subsequently around the world.

Gondreau said the pope’s embrace of his son shows he is truly devoted to the poor, and the hug was not done for purely material or political reasons.

“Pope Francis’ embrace of my son yesterday,’’ Gondreau said, “… in its own small yet powerful way, shows once again how the wisdom of the Cross confounds human wisdom.’’

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