A word of warning to those who write a personal note to Pope Francis: He might just call you back.
Francis has charmed the masses with his informal style, simplicity and sense of humor—and a handful of strangers have gotten the treatment up close, receiving papal phone calls out of the blue after writing him or suffering some personal tragedy.
After another random phone call from the pope this week, Italy's leading Corriere della Sera newspaper offered etiquette tips for lucky recipients, proposing conversation starters and no-go areas on its front page Friday.
Topping the list: Be ready, especially if the landline rings.
The 76-year-old Francis has a fondness for making calls the old-fashioned way, using landlines and placing the calls himself, often surprising recipients by simply announcing "It's the pope."
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After his election in March, Francis reportedly called his newspaper stand in Buenos Aires to cancel his daily delivery and his shoemaker to tell him not to bother with papal red leather loafers but to keep making his regular black orthotics. The receptionist at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome thought he got a prank call when Francis phoned two days after being chosen pope looking for the Jesuit superior.
The pontiff has since called an Italian man whose brother was killed and a Colombian woman who works in Rome to thank her for a book.