"Hello Michele, It's Pope Francis"

Pope Makes Surprise Phone Call To Grief Stricken Man

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On the hot midday of Wednesday, August 7, the mobile phone of Michele Ferri, 40, brother of Andrea, an owner of several gas stations, who was killed two months ago by an employee and his accomplice , began to vibrate. The display read that the caller was “Unknown.” Curious, Michele answered ”Pronto?” “Hello Michele, it’s Pope Francis,” he heard in reply.

His heart began to beat rapidly. First the surprise, then the panic of “and now what should I say?” and then doubt, “perhaps it’s a joke.” However, a small light lit in Michele’s head: a short time ago, torn by grief over the loss of his brother, he had written a very private letter to the Pontiff. And, totally unexpectedly, the Pope answered him courteously.

Pope Francis “spoke to me immediately about the letter I had written him and no one knew that I addressed it to him,” recalled Michele, speaking to “Il Messaggero.” On his Facebook profile he then posted: “Today an unexpected phone call arrived … on my phone. Pronto?’ A voice answered saying  ‘Hello Michele, it’s Pope Francis.’  A unique emotion.”

The Holy Father “told me that he wept when he read the letter I’d written,” said Ferri — confined for years to a wheelchair — to his social network friends, without revealing, however, other details of the contents of this special phone call. Michele then told journalists that he asked the Pope for “the kindness to call my mother,” “because I wrote that letter also for her, to give her hope. And so he did, “after I gave him the number of our home.” Naturally, Michele let his mother know ahead of time, to avoid the risk of her putting down the receiver thinking it was a joke.

“He also told my mother that he was moved in reading my letter,” added Michele. “The Pope was most kind, and this is also a gift of his, together with a  great humanity. Without taking anything away from those who preceded him, Michelle stressed .“This Pope is special, he has something more than his predecessors.”

“I would have liked to ask him so many other things, but my mind was completely blank, I couldn’t’ even articulate a thought.” “I felt something different, and he demonstrated this to me. He, certainly, doesn’t need this publicity: people already know who he is and what he does,” he added.

To the question about how his family feels after the Supreme Pontiff’s phone call, Ferri answered:  “The Pope is able to transmit great serenity and he has given us hope,” and this phone call was “a sign that has alleviated our grief somewhat.” However, the demise of his brother is a wound that is slow in healing.  “For all of us, Andrea’s death is an event that will stay with us forever,” he said. “I’m not ready to forgive” the killer, he stated, “I would like to ask him first why he did it.”

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Salvatore Cernuzio

Crotone, Italy Bachelor's degree in Communication Sciences, Information and Marketing (2008) and Master's degree in Publishing and Journalism (2010) from LUMSA University of Rome. Vatican Radio. Rome Seven. "Ecclesia in Urbe. Social Communications Office of the Vicariate of Rome. Second place in the Youth category of the second edition of the Giuseppe De Carli Prize for religious information.

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