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'Cold Call Pope' surprises faithful with unexpected phone calls

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 11 2013 11:39 a.m. MDT

Pope Francis answers reporters questions during a news conference aboard the papal flight on the journey back from Brazil, Monday, July 29, 2013. The pope has become known for his down-to-earth personality.

Luca Zennaro, Associated Press

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To the delight of millions of Roman Catholics all over the world, Pope Francis is furthering his reputation as a “pope of the people” by placing unsolicited phone calls to several followers who wrote letters to him.

CBS News reported Tuesday, “Known for his down-to-earth personality, Pope Francis has found a direct way of reaching out to the faithful. … Nicknamed ‘Cold Call Pope,’ the pontiff (has made) surprise phone calls to several people. … Reportedly, the pope called a divorced pregnant woman and offered to baptize her baby; she wrote to the pontiff when her boyfriend pressured her to have an abortion. There were also reports that Francis also responded to a rape survivor's letter.”

The New York Times’ Elisabetta Povoledo and Dan Bilefsky confirmed with the Vatican that the pope did in fact phone a rape victim in Argentina and a divorced pregnant woman in Italy.

“While the papal phoning has been widely greeted with delight, it is also proving somewhat perilous, with unsubstantiated news reports of calls supposedly made by Francis — including one last week to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and another to a young distraught French gay man,” Povoledo and Bilefsky wrote for the Times. "The Vatican denied that the pope had made those calls.

“Some Vatican officials are expressing concern that individuals are impersonating Francis to advance political or ideological agendas. Other Vatican analysts fear that the advent of papal phone calls could spawn disillusion among those not receiving a call.”

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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