A phone rings, and at the end of the line a voice says: “Hello, I’m Pope Francis, I’m calling because I’ve read your letter.” Since the beginning of this pontificate, the media worldwide has reported these stories of the Pope who calls persons to console them, to encourage them in difficulties, and to assure them of his prayers.
In fact, thousands of letters, parcels, drawings and various objects arrive every week at the Vatican for one recipient: His Holiness Pope Francis. Letters arrive from all over the world. They are managed by the Pope’s Office of Correspondence, located in the Apostolic Palace.
Monsignor Giuliano Gallorini heads this office and he gave an interview to the weekly “Vatican Magazine” — produced by the Vatican Television Center — a part of which Vatican Radio published this week.
Some 30 bags a week – between envelops and parcels of all shapes and sizes – all sent to the corridor located in the Third Loggia of the Apostolic Palace, where the rooms are of the Pope’s Office of Correspondence.
In the interview, Monsignor Gallorini said that “the petitions are above all for consolation and prayer. Very many are concerned with – it might be also because of the time we are living – difficulties, especially sicknesses. They ask for prayers for children, and describe situations of economic difficulty. We try to have the Pope’s closeness felt, who receives their sufferings, their disconsolation, who is close to them in prayer. Afterwards, in so far as possible, we help to direct the requests to specific offices, for instance the requests for financial help are sent to diocesan Caritas, so that they can be verified and be dealt with immediately.”
A small working group – Monsignor Gallorini, Sister Anna and two other women – are in charge of managing the enormous correspondence addressed to the Holy Father. The first part of the work is the selection by language. Then the letters are opened and read. Pope Francis alone could not read them all. That is why the work of this office is to differentiate the letters that just wish to greet the Pope from those that seek his consolation and spiritual support.
“There are more delicate cases, such as cases of conscience. In these cases, a note is made and they are sent to the secretaries so that the Pope can handle them directly. He certainly reads them, initials them and tells us how we must answer,” explained Monsignor Gallorini.
The work must also be done attuned to the Pope’s particular style. “To read these letters more with the heart than the mind; to share the suffering and to find the apt words to express what the Pope really wants to have expressed: closeness, sharing. It’s really in the style of sharing. Moreover, the Pope has always said that the shepherd must live with the flock, with the sheep. He must listen and live their experience with them,” explained Monsignor Gallorini.