A papal aide helped the boy up to the platform where the pope sat.
Francis embraced the boy. Their heads touching, the pope and boy spoke privately before Emanuele returned to his seat.
After asking permission, the pope shared the boy's question with a small crowd.
"'A little while ago my father passed away. He was a nonbeliever, but he had all four of his children baptized," the pope recalled the boy saying. "He was a good man. Is dad in heaven?'"
"That man did not have the gift of faith, he wasn't a believer, but he had his children baptized. He had a good heart."
Francis asked the children in the crowd if they thought God would abandon a father like Emanuele's, who was a good man.
The children shouted back: "No!"
"There, Emanuele: That is the answer," the pope said, according to a translation provided by the Catholic News Service.