Papal Phone Call: Receptionist Doesn't Believe It's Pope Francis

Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013 12:16 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Pope Francis called the switchboard of a Jesuit residence in Rome, trying to contact a member of his old order, and identified himself. Convinced she was the butt of a practical joke, the receptionist told him, “And I’m Napoleon,” and refused to put the Pope's phone call through.

Pope Francis eventually convinced her of his identity, according to Metro UK.

It wasn’t surprising the receptionist doubted the caller’s identity at first, but the Argentina native's informal style has been making headlines ever since he was selected to replace Pope Benedict XVI.

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As the first Jesuit Pope ever and the first non-European Pope in more than 1,000 years, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio – now Pope Francis – has been living simply and humbly since he took the post.

Ever since he was elected to lead 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, he has eschewed the ornate cross Popes before him have worn, opting for the simple cross he has always worn. He chooses to ride in a shuttle bus with the other cardinals instead of using the papal limousine, a practice he carried over from his service in Argentina, where he regularly rode the bus instead of using church vehicles.

Some see Bergoglio’s election as a rebranding moment for the Catholic Church, since a dark cloud of scandal has surrounded the church in recent years. Church leaders have been slammed for the way they have handled priests' sexual abuse.

Catholic Church membership has remained relatively stable worldwide, even growing in Africa and Asia, but reports on Catholic News indicate that the number of practicing Catholics is decreasing.

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The election of Pope Francis, whose inauguration in St. Peter’s Square last week attracted hundreds of thousands, has drawn some criticism. Opponents say he didn’t do enough as leader of Argentinian Catholics to stand up to the junta’s murderous rampage in the '70s.

The Washington Post reported that Bergoglio considered sainthood for some of the church leaders killed during that war.

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