Friday, September 20, 2013

He Made the Call After All...

There was a news story circulating earlier this month about a 25-year old French gay man who claimed that he had received a phone call from the Pope. The man, Christophe Trutino, had written a letter to the Pope expressing his difficulties in reconciling his sexual orientation with his faith. Trutino claimed that in late August he received an unexpected phone call directly from Pope Francis. Trutino recounted the conversation:

"It was he who started the conversation," Trutino told local newspaper La Dépêche du Midi. "He said 'Christopher? It's Pope Francis'. I was unsettled, of course. I asked, 'Really?' He replied, 'Yes.'"

"I know it's hard to believe, but it really happened like that. From that moment on , I no longer doubted," said the young Frenchman.

“I received the letter that you sent me. You need to remain courageous and continue to believe and pray and stay good,” the voice at the end of the phone told him during the nine-minute conversation in Spanish.

“Your homosexuality. It doesn’t matter. One way or another , we are all children of God. This is why we must continue to be good," he continued.

Trutino said the phone call concluded with the Pope asking the young man to pray for him and that he would do the same in return.

“When I hung up the phone, I was completely filled with emotion," the student told Midi Libre.

"I was shaking. At the same time, the conversation was very relaxed. It was like a call from a friend, nice, very human.”

After Trutino went public with his story, a spokesman for the Vatican "firmly denied" that the Pope had called the young man, “The only time the Pope has called France was to speak to Cardinal Barbarin. I absolutely deny this information," said Father Lombardi of the Vatican. This resulted in speculation that the young man had either made up the story or had been the victim of a hoax.

But in a newly released interview with the Pope by by Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal, Francis confirms that he did indeed make the phone call:

“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. And the church is Mother; the church is fruitful. It must be. You see, when I perceive negative behavior in ministers of the church or in consecrated men or women, the first thing that comes to mind is: ‘Here’s an unfruitful bachelor’ or ‘Here’s a spinster.’ They are neither fathers nor mothers, in the sense that they have not been able to give spiritual life. Instead, for example, when I read the life of the Salesian missionaries who went to Patagonia, I read a story of the fullness of life, of fruitfulness. Another example from recent days that I saw got the attention of newspapers: the phone call I made to a young man who wrote me a letter. I called him because that letter was so beautiful, so simple. For me this was an act of generativity. I realized that he was a young man who is growing, that he saw in me a father, and that the letter tells something of his life to that father. The father cannot say, ‘I do not care.’ This type of fruitfulness is so good for me.”


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