By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/24/2013 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Strangers have been getting a most surprising - but welcome telephone call. Pope Francis has adopted the process of calling back people who send him letters asking for spiritual advice. It's just the latest wrinkle in a pope who stresses simplicity and a more personal approach.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Strangers have received papal phone calls out of the blue after writing Pope Francis after suffering some personal tragedy.
An Italian newspaper has since offered helpful etiquette tips for the lucky recipients, proposing conversation starters and no-go areas on its front page.
First: Be prepared, especially if the land line rings. The 76-year-old pope has a fondness for making calls the old-fashioned way, using land lines and placing the calls himself. He often surprises recipients by simply announcing "It's the pope."
Francis reportedly called his newspaper stand in Buenos Aires in March to cancel his daily delivery. He also called 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 being chosen pope looking for the Jesuit superior.
Francis reportedly called an Italian man whose brother was killed and a Colombian woman who works in Rome to thank her for a book.
Noted humorist Beppe Severgnini and newspaper columnist, offered other tips in his article:
"Listen first, then talk, and if the conversation permits, ask the soccer-mad Francis about the recent friendly between Italy and Argentina.
"Always ask how Benedict XVI is doing. 'It'll make him happy,' Severgnini noted. Francis frequently refers fondly to his 86-year-old retired predecessor who is living on the other side of the Vatican gardens.
"Avoid touchy subjects like Vatican policy or scandal."
More importantly, "Don't ask for any favors."
Severgnini also said even though Francis is fond of using the informal "tu" in conversation, stick with the formal "lei" but don't overdo it with exaggerated titles like "magnificent."
Nineteen-year-old student Stefano Cabizza, the latest papal phone call recipient has been quoted 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.'"
Cabizza said he received the call after leaving a letter for Francis following his Mass at Castel Gandolfo on Aug. 15. He declined to say what he had written.
Finally, Severgnini advises people not to be worried about what to say. "Just be natural," Severgnini wrote. "If he wanted to get bored, he would have called a government minister."
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