Pope speaks on mobile phone, dons helmet

At his 15 June general audience, Pope Benedict XVI talked to more than 20,000 people in St. Peter's Square, but he also spoke to someone on a mobile phone and donned a fire chief's helmet.

Catholic News Service reports, a middle-aged man in a wheelchair, who was among dozens of people led up to the pope at the end of the audience, handed Pope Benedict a mobile phone and asked him to talk. The pope did so.

Officials at the Vatican press office and in the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household could provide no information about who was on the other end of the phone or what Pope Benedict said. ANSA, the Italian news agency, reported that the call was made to a nun who was sick.

With thousands of soggy pilgrims and tourists awaiting his teaching, Pope Benedict opened his weekly general audience with a prayer that "the weather improves." By the end of the audience, the sun had broken through the thick black clouds, leading the pope to thank God for "the sign of his kindness, for which we had hoped."

The day had begun with a major downpour, leading the Swiss Guards to cover up their colorful uniforms with dark blue rain gear.

The guards' matching blue caps were bland compared to the new hat the pope received at the end of the audience; Italian firefighters gave him a silver chief's helmet. With a practiced hand, a firefighter flicked open the chinstrap, and Pope Benedict put the helmet on his head.

In his audience talk, Pope Benedict focused on Psalm 123, a prayer recited in times of persecution and difficulty, but one that is filled with trust that the Lord will rescue those who love him. The psalm, the pope said, focuses on "an exchange of gazes: The faithful (one) lifts his eyes to the Lord and expects a divine reaction, a gesture of love and benevolent gaze."

Keeping one's eyes fixed on the Lord, he said, is a common biblical expression for the trust the poor, the oppressed and the righteous have in God.

"The supplicant expects that the divine hands will take action because they work for justice, destroying evil," he said. "The just await God's gaze, which will reveal all his tenderness and goodness."

At audience, pope speaks on mobile phone, dons fire chief's helmet (Catholic News Service 15/6/05)

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The Vatican | Benedict XVI

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16 Jun 2005