‘I am close to the People of God’: Pope startles host with call on live TV

“I am close, I am close to you all,” Pope Francis said on Good Friday, making a surprise call-in to a live Italian television program.

“Good evening, Lorena. How are you?” the pope said to the visibly surprised host of a religious show called “A sua immagine” (“In His image”), on Italy’s Rai 1 channel.

The pope called the show during the airing of a special for Good Friday. He has been celebrating the Holy Week liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica without the presence of the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On the TV program, Francis said that during Holy Week he was thinking about Christ’s crucifixion and the many sacrifices men and women were making during the global health emergency caused by COVID-19.

“In these days, I am thinking about our crucified Lord. And the stories of the many crucified people, those of history and those of today, [in] this pandemic: the doctors, nurses, religious sisters, priests, who have died at the ‘frontlines’ like soldiers,” he said.

These men and women, he continued, “have given their lives for love.” They are “resistant, like Mary, under their crosses, they and their communities, in hospitals, taking care of the sick.”

He said that today there are people “who die for love. This is the thought which comes to me in this moment.”

Asked what he will be thinking about during the praying of the Stations of the Cross April 10, he said, “I am close to the People of God, those suffering most, especially the victims of this pandemic, close to the pain of the world.”

He added that he will be, however, “looking up, looking with hope, because hope does not disappoint. It does not remove the pain, but it does not disappoint.”

He assured viewers that “Easter exists always in the Resurrection and in peace.”

But the Resurrection is not just a happy ending, he said, “it is the promise of love which helps us pass this difficult road… This comforts us and gives us strength.”

Francis completed his short call by saying “may the Lord bless you, may he bless everyone.”

Later the same day, Francis celebrated the Lord’s Passion and the Via Crucis, or Stations of the Cross.