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“An Extraordinary Surprise”: Pope Francis calls in Live to Italy’s TV Morning Show!

Photo courtesy of Rai Uno
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Pope sends TV anchors and viewers a special message before Christmas

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis made a live call-in to one of Italy’s most popular TV morning shows today, with a special message for its hosts and viewers.

At 9:08 a.m. (Rome-time), the pope phoned the Italian State Broadcaster RAI 1’s morning show, Unomattina [One Morning], to congratulate them on their 30th anniversary of broadcasting, and to wish their viewers a Merry Christmas.

“To thank you for all the warmth you have shown us over the years,” Unomattina’s hosts told viewers as they awaited the call, “we have a gift for you … we have on the telephone an extraordinary surprise for you.”

Here below is their conversation with Pope Francis:

Host: Hello, Your Holiness …

Pope Francis: Good morning!

Host: Good morning, thank you!

Pope Francis: They told me that today, for you at “Unomattina,” is an important date: you celebrate 30 years of broadcasting…

Host: It’s true …

Pope Francis: I wanted to congratulate you, along with the show’s writers, producers, journalists, camera crew, technical staff, and employees … in short, all those who cooperate in making this very popular broadcast a reality. I know that today the Directors of Tg1 and Rai 1 are also there: greetings to them, and good work!

Host: Thank you, Your Holiness. We — Francesca and I — together with our journalists, directors, and technicians, want to express our best wishes to you for your birthday, for your 80th. And so we have prepared a little surprise for you, Your Holiness. Here it is …

Pope Francis: Let’s see what the little surprise is …

[A montage with highlights from the pontificate begins, introduced by an image of Pope Francis on the “loggia” the evening he was elected, asking the people gathered in St. Peter’s Square “to pray over” him in silence. The segment continues narrated by the male host:

“It was the first evening of Papa Bergoglio, the first Latin American Pope, the first to take the name “Francis.” The change was even clearer when he went personally to pay his hotel bill the next day. The centrality of the Gospel is the revolution, the final realization of the Council that took place more than 50 years ago; the engine is faith in the God of mercy.

A Church without temporal power, going out to the peripheries, to the poor, to the discarded, that wants to be involved with Christian communities, with families, wounded couples, with the divorced and remarried who can begin a path to approach the Sacraments that was once forbidden from the start.

A Church that accompanies, that condemns evil but does not judge persons. No one is excluded from his compelling humanity. Pope Francis, who celebrates his birthday with the homeless; Pope Francis, who leaves the Vatican to buy orthopedic shoes as he did to buy glasses; Pope Francis among the earthquake victims: a pope who is close…”]

The live telephone call resumes… 

Host: Your Holiness, are you still on the phone with us?

Pope Francis: Yes, yes, thank you for the surprise.

Host: We want to thank you, and given that Christmas is just a few days away, we would like to know if …

Host 2: … wish you a Merry Christmas: Merry Christmas, Your Holiness!

Host: … if you would like to give a message to everyone who is watching from home: there are many elderly and sick among them.

Pope Francis: Yes, I wish you a Christian Christmas, like the first one was, when God willed to overturn the values of the world, and to become little in a manger, with the little ones, with the poor, with the marginalized … littleness. In this world, where the god of money is so adored, may Christmas help us to gaze upon the littleness of this God who has overturned worldly values.

I wish you a Holy and Happy Christmas: a holy and happy Christmas. I embrace you all.

Host: Thank you, Your Holiness. Merry Christmas.

Pope Francis: Merry Christmas!

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