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Pope Francis’s habit of picking up the phone and cold calling people who write to him have been landing the Vatican in hot water, according to spokesman Federico Lombardi who has said that the calls were part of the pope’s “personal pastoral relationships” and “do not in any way form a part of the pope’s public activities”.
The spokesman said media reports about the phone calls have been “a source of misunderstanding and confusion”.
The controversy arose about a phone call that Francis apparently made to a woman in Argentina who had complained her parish priest would not grant her Holy Communion because she had divorced and remarried. Francis was quoted by the woman’s husband as saying that the issue was being looked at in the Vatican and that divorcees who take Holy Communion are doing nothing bad. Catholic rules currently ban divorcees from taking Holy Communion, the spiritual high point of the mass. The pope has previously been reported making calls even to his newsagent in Buenos Aires to cancel a subscription and comforting a mother grieving over her murdered daughter. The Vatican rarely makes official comment on reports of the calls, but has to step in after the issue was raised in tabloids.