In his short tenure, Pope Francis has gained a reputation for being a down-to-earth pontiff of the people.
Now, they’re even calling him the “cold-call pope” for his habit of making his own phone calls. In addition to calling Catholics around the world, the pope personally called to cancel his newspaper subscription in his hometown in Argentina, and he also called his cobbler to tell him that someone else would be picking up his shoes.
His most recent call was to Anna Romano, a 35-year-old who wrote the pope a desperate letter in which she said she was pregnant, and that she’d learned her boyfriend had a wife and children.
In an interview with an Italian television station, Romano described the call.
“I recognized his voice right away,” she said. “He told me I was very strong and brave to keep my baby.”
When Romano voiced her fear that no priest would baptize an illegitimate baby, Francis reportedly said: “You know, there’s always me.”
Francis has made about a dozen spontaneous calls to the faithful, including to a woman who said she feared retaliation after she reported that she had been raped by a policeman. He also called a man who was angry with God after his brother had been murdered, and also spoke to a young man who worried about finding a job after he graduated.
Amid these calls have come some false reports. The Vatican had denied reports that the pope called the president of Syria, Bashar Assad, or that he called a gay French man and told him that his homosexuality didn’t matter.
Francis’ willingness to chat appears to be part of a larger effort to be a different kind of pope. He recently posed for a photo with teens at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
He also lives a simpler life, as much as he can. Rather than living in the Papal Palace, he has a simple room in a separate apartment building located inside Vatican City, and travels with less security than did his predecessors.