.- He thought it was a joke. The young doorman at the Jesuit motherhouse in Rome never expected to receive a phone call from Pope Francis.
The Holy Father had to patiently and kindly convince the doorman who he was in order to speak with the Father General of the Jesuits to thank him for a letter the Pontiff received upon his election.
According to Father Claudio Barriga, SJ, who recounted the incident in an email to fellow Jesuits around the world, the unexpected phone call from Pope came around 10:15 a.m. Rome time on Thursday.
“The doorman answered the phone. They said it was call from St. Martha’s Residence and he heard a soft and serene voice: ‘Buon Giorno, sono il Papa Francesco, vorrei parlare con il Padre Generale (Good morning, it’s Pope Francis. I’d like to speak with the Father General).’”
“The doorman almost answered: ‘Yeah, and I’m Napoleon,’ but he resisted. Instead he replied curtly, ‘May I ask who’s calling?’ The Pope realized the young Italian man didn’t believe it was him, so he kindly repeated, ‘Seriously, it’s Pope Francis. What’s your name?’”
“Ever since the Pope’s election, our phone has been ringing every two minutes and a lot of people are calling, including a few lunatics,” Father Barriga said.
“Once the doorman realized his mistake he answered with a hesitant and nervous voice: ‘My name is Andrew.’”
“How are you, Andrew?” asked the Pope.
“Fine, pardon me, just a little bit confused.”
The Holy Father responded, “Don’t worry, could you please connect me with the Father General? I would like to thank him for the beautiful letter he sent me.”
“Pardon me, Your Holiness, I’ll connect you right now,” said the doorman.
“No problem. I’ll wait as long as necessary,” said Pope Francis.
The doorman handed the phone to the Father General’s private secretary, Brother Alfonso.
“Hello?” Brother Alfonso said.
“With whom am I speaking?” the Pope asked.
“It’s Alfonso, the Father General’s personal secretary,” he replied.
“It’s the Pope, I would like to speak with the Father General to thank him for the beautiful letter he sent me,” the Holy Father said.
“Sure, just a moment,” Brother Alfonso replied in amazement.
As he made his way to the office of Father Adolfo Nicolas, the Jesuit Father General, he continued his conversation.
“Holy Father, congratulations on your election! We are all happy here for your election, we are praying a lot for you,” Brother Alfonso told him.
“Praying that I keep going or that I turn back?” the Pope joked.
“That you keep going, of course,” he replied, as the Holy Father laughed.
“Stunned and bewildered, Brother Alfonso didn’t even bother to knock and simply entered the office of the Father General, who looked at him with surprise. He gave him the phone, looked at him and said: The Pope,” Father Barriga recounted.
“We don’t know the details about what happened next, but the Pope cordially thanked the Father General for his letter. The Father General said he would like to see him to greet him. The Pope said he would instruct his secretary so that they could meet as soon as possible and that somebody from the Vatican would be in touch,” Father Barriga said in his message.