Pope Francis phones Roman Catholic faithful
VATICAN CITY — A word of warning to those who write personal notes to Pope Francis: He might just call you back.
Francis has charmed the Roman Catholic masses with his informal style, simplicity and sense of humor — and a handful of strangers have gotten the treatment up close, receiving papal phone calls out of the blue after writing him or suffering some personal tragedy.
After another random phone call from the pope this week, Italy's leading Corriere della Sera daily offered etiquette tips for the lucky recipients, proposing conversation starters and no-go areas on its front page on Friday.
Topping the list: Be ready, especially if the land line rings.
The 76-year-old Francis has a fondness for making calls the old-fashioned way, using land lines and placing the calls himself, often surprising recipients by simply announcing, “It's the pope.”
After his election in March, Francis reportedly called his newspaper stand in Buenos Aires to cancel his daily delivery and his shoemaker to tell him not to bother with papal red leather loafers but to keep making his regular black orthotics.
The receptionist at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome thought he got a crank call when Francis phoned two days after his election looking for the Jesuit superior.
Francis has since called an Italian man whose brother was killed and a Colombian woman who works in Rome to thank her for a book.
Beppe Severgnini, a noted humorist and Corriere columnist, advised people not to be worried about what to say.
“Just be natural,” Severgnini wrote. “If (Francis) wanted to get bored, he would have called a government minister.”
The recipient of this week's call, Stefano Cabizza, a 19-year-old student, was quoted by Corriere as saying that Francis had told him to refer to him with the informal “tu,” noting that “even Jesus and the apostles used the ‘tu.' ”