VATICAN CITY (AP) – Heaven may have waited, but a phone call to the Pope couldn’t.
In a decidedly unusual departure from protocol, Pope Francis took a cell phone from an aide while standing center stage in the Vatican’s auditorium for his weekly Wednesday audience with the audience. Francis, who blessed those present near the end of the event, spoke excitedly for a few minutes with whoever was on the other end.
The Pope gestured with his free hand as if the caller could see him – a common motive for many people when talking on the phone – while holding the device over his left ear with his other hand. Francis seemed to be explaining something and doing most of the talking.
He moved his right hand twice as if he was signing something.
The Vatican declined to comment on the nature of the public call.
After blessing members of his audience, the Pope usually wades into the crowd to greet several of them affectionately. But in another departure from the routine, Francis abruptly changed direction on Wednesday while chatting with another assistant as he was about to go down the stairs. Instead of greeting the faithful, head toward the locked exit door on the stage.
At first the aide, and then the Pope, signaled to the participants that they should wait. The aide opened the door and the pope briskly walked out of the podium. A few minutes later, Francis came back down the marble staircase to the audience section to mingle with people who wanted to shake hands with him or take selfies with him.
“Creatore. Amante dei social media hipster. Appassionato di web. Appassionato fanatico dell’alcol.”