At Audience, Pope Talks by Cellphone With a Patient

Fulfills a Request From a Disabled Person

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 15, 2005 ( To the surprise of aides, Benedict XVI spoke on a mobile telephone with a terminally ill patient, at the request of another patient who was attending an outdoor papal audience.

At the end of today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, a handicapped man in a wheelchair asked the Pope to speak on a mobile phone with a terminally ill nun.

Seated on his chair, the Holy Father was happy to acquiesce, and offered words of encouragement to the religious over the phone.

Photographers reacted quickly to capture on film what might have been the first public conversation of a Pope on a cellphone.

Benedict XVI warmly greeted some of the sick and handicapped people who were present at the audience. At one point the Pope embraced a sick woman by the head and promised his prayers.

The Holy Father also greeted a group of Rome’s firefighters, who showed him their new-generation helmets. Benedict XVI promptly donned a helmet to the applause and laughter of the crowd.

Then, an African bishop put a golden necklace around the Pope’s neck, and the Holy Father wore it as a symbol of his love for Africa during the whole time he spoke with the prelate.

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