Pope Francis interrupted his weekly audience with the public today – to take a phone call in an unusual break from protocol.
The 84-year-old pontiff took a mobile phone from an aide while standing on the centre stage of Paul VI Hall in the Vatican and chatted animatedly for a couple of minutes with whomever was on the other end.
Francis, who had blessed the attendees near the event’s end on Wednesday, gestured with his free hand while he held the device to his left ear with his other hand.
He seemed to be explaining something and did most of the talking – but the nature of the very public call will remain a mystery as the Vatican declined to comment.
Pope Francis today interrupted his weekly audience with the public to take a phone call in a decidedly unusual break from protocol
The 84-year-old pontiff took a mobile phone from an aide while standing on the centre stage of Paul VI Hall in the Vatican
Francis chatted animatedly for a couple of minutes with whomever was on the other end
Pope Francis greets the faithful at the end of his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican on Wednesday
During his sermon, Francis said that he was greatly pained by the killing of a Roman Catholic priest, allegedly by a Rwandan immigrant already under investigation for setting the Nantes cathedral on fire last year.
Father Olivier Maire, 60, head of the Montfortain Missionary Order at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre, was found dead in a room of the abbey.
Rwandan refugee Emmanel Abayisenga, 40, reportedly confessed to killing Olivier on Monday.
Abayisenga had been awaiting trail for setting fire to Nantes Cathedral last year, and had been taken in my Father Maire’s community while on bail and under judicial control.
‘It was with great pain that I learned of the murder’, Francis told French tourists and pilgrims at his weekly general audience.
He expressed his condolences to the members of the order, to the priest’s family and to all French Catholics.
‘I assure you of my participation (in the mourning) and my spiritual closeness,’ he said.
Pictured: Father Olivier, the 60-year-old priest who was allegedly murdered on Monday
Pictured: French gendarmerie vehicles parked where the catholic priest, Father Olivier Maire, was murdered in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevres, Western France, on August 9, 2021
French prosecutors said Abayisenga was arrested on suspicion of murder.
La Roche-sur-Yon prosecutor Yannick Le Goater told reporters police had found Maire’s body in a room to which the suspect had given them the key.
Following the cathedral fire in July 2020, the suspect was held in detention until late May when he was then released under judicial supervision and placed in the abbey, the prosecutor said.
After talking about wanting to leave, he was transferred to a psychiatric hospital where he stayed until the end of July.
Wednesday’s weekly audience was the second Francis has held since undergoing bowel surgery a little more than a month ago.
After blessing the members of his audience, the pope typically wades into the crowd to greet many of them affectionately.
But in another departure from the routine, Francis on Wednesday abruptly changed direction while chatting with another aide as he was about to descend the stage steps. Instead of greeting the faithful, he headed toward a closed exit door on the stage.
First the aide, then the pope, gestured to the participants that they should wait. The aide opened the door, and the pope walked briskly off the stage.
After a few minutes, Francis returned and went down the marble steps to the audience section to mingle with people who wanted to shake his hand or take selfies with him.
Wednesday’s weekly audience was the second Francis has held since undergoing bowel surgery a little more than a month ago
Francis returned and went down the marble steps to the audience section to mingle with people who wanted to shake his hand or take selfies with him
He held his first weekly audience since the surgery on August 4 where he walked unaided to the centre of the stage, offering his prayers and condolences to Lebanon on the anniversary of the Beirut port blast. Pictured: Pope Francis on Wednesday during the general audience
He held his first weekly audience since the surgery on August 4 where he walked unaided to the centre of the stage, offering his prayers and condolences to Lebanon on the anniversary of the Beirut port blast.
The pontiff had been admitted to hospital in Rome on July 4 for an operation to remove a section of his colon. The Vatican said the surgery was necessitated by diverticular stenosis, or a narrowing of the bowel.
Unlike previous pontiffs, who spent summers at the Vatican’s holiday retreat in the cooler hills near Rome, or, in the case of John Paul II, who liked to vacation in the Italian Alps, Francis stays at the Vatican each summer.
But during his papacy, the Wednesday audiences have been suspended in July to give Francis some extra rest time during Rome’s hot summers. His hospitalization therefore didn’t interfere with his regular general audience schedule.
While recovering at the hospital, Francis stepped onto a 10-floor balcony to greet well-wishers. He still looks somewhat wan, but Francis has been in good spirits and adlibbed at times during his traditional Sunday window appearances to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square.