Of all the novelties that Pope Francis has brought to the Vatican, few have endeared him to the public — and unsettled his aides — as much as his penchant for picking up the phone and calling someone out of the blue.
Now it seems “the cold-call pope,” as he has been dubbed, has done it again: he reportedly called a 35-year Italian woman who had written to him after she became pregnant and was then dumped by her fiance’, who it turned out was married with children of his own. The man also urged the woman to have an abortion.
Instead, Anna Romano wrote in desperation to Francis in July, knowing that he sometimes responds personally to the thousands of people who write to him.
On Tuesday (Sept. 3), Romano’s cell phone rang. It was Rome number she did not recognize but she answered anyway.
“Hello, Anna,” the voice on the other end of the line said, “this is Pope Francis.”
“I was petrified,” she told Il Messaggero, a Rome daily. “I recognized his voice and I knew right away that it really was the pope.”
She again recounted the story that she had written in the letter: how she was divorced with a child already, and was engaged to be married when she discovered in June that she was pregnant. That’s when her fiance’ demanded that she have an abortion.
She told him to get lost and said she was keeping the baby. But she was also feeling desperate, “betrayed, humiliated.” That’s why she wrote to Francis. On the envelope she put: “Holy Father Pope Francis, Vatican City, Rome.” No zip code, nothing else.
It was enough, apparently. The pope called her as informally as “a dear, old friend” would, Romano said, and in their conversation Francis “reassured me, telling me that the baby was a gift from God, a sign of Providence. He told me I would not be left alone.”
When Roman told the pope that she wanted to have the child baptized but was afraid she could not because she is divorced and n her own, the pope told her he was sure that she could find a willing pastor.
“But if not,” Francis added, “you know there’s always me.”
Though she doesn’t know whether she will have a girl or a boy, Romano told the newspaper she thinks it’s a boy, and it’s clear what she will name him: “Francis.”
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