Picking up the telephone and calling people out of the blue is no big deal for Pope Francis, a Vatican official has said.
Mgr Dario Viganò, director of the Vatican Television Centre, said the Pope told him that the many calls the journalists had brought to light are just the tip of the iceberg: “Good thing they don’t know about all the ones I have made!” the Pope reportedly said.
In an interview with Famiglia Cristiana, an Italian Catholic magazine, Mgr Viganò said that during a recent meeting with the Pope, he asked the Pontiff about the media frenzy over reports of papal cold calls.
The monsignor said the Pope looked at him amazed and said: “Tell the journalists that my calls are not news.”
According to Mgr Viganò, the Pope said: “That’s the way I am; I’ve always done this, even in Buenos Aires,” where he served first as auxiliary bishop beginning in 1992 and archbishop from 1998 until his election as Pope in March.
He said the Pope explained how any time he got “a card or a letter from a priest having difficulties, from a family or a prisoner, I would respond”.
The Pope said: “For me, it’s much easier to call, to ask about the problem and suggest a solution, if there is one. Some people I call, others I write to instead,” according to Mgr Viganò.
The monsignor told the magazine he had received several calls from the Pope and not all of them were work-related. “Once he called me at the office to wish me happy birthday.”
The head of the Vatican’s television production centre said the constant stream of papal calls signalled a kind of telephonic pastoral care.
Being able to hear someone’s voice allows the caller to understand the feelings of the person on the other line and get “in tune with” the person’s problems and needs, he said.
Getting a call from the Pope sends a strong signal that God cares, he said.
If the Pope “takes it upon himself to call me, it means I am special to him and above all in God’s heart”, he said.