Pope Calls a Rape Victim to Comfort Her

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Luca Zennaro / Reuters

Pope Francis listens to journalists' questions as he flies back to Rome following his visit to Brazil on July 29, 2013

Alejandra Pereyra got a call she never expected while she was knitting on Sunday. “It’s Pope Francis,” said the voice on the other end of the line. “I started crying,” she recounted on Argentine television. “With an angelic voice, he told me to be calm and that he was calling because he had read my letter and my story struck him.”

Pereyra had written a letter to Pope Francis earlier this month telling him the story of how police in Córdoba abused her and her family. Her words stood out to the Pope amid the thousands of communications he receives every day. She wrote:

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I am mother to six biological children and have brought up six others, three of which have disabilities. One day, one of these children was playing with a ball on the sidewalk in front of our house, when a policeman came by and called out to him. He didn’t get a response so the policeman took an Ithaca rifle and pointed it at the child’s chin. I went to the courts in Rio Segundo and reported the incident. Since then, me and my family have been continually harassed by the police.

With all the pain I carry in my heart, dear Holy Father, I ask you for your help because after all the talk of rape, they finally did it. One night in September 2008, around midnight, a police car turned up at our house and a policeman who presented himself as police chief Sergio Braccamonte, got out … he pointed a service pistol at my head and raped me.

The Pope’s call, timed just before the trice-daily Angelus prayer, is one more way Pope Francis is revitalizing a Catholic Church that has been under global critique for its own sexual abuses. Jesus Christ’s mission focused on caring for the marginalized — as the New Testament Book of James puts it, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

Pope Francis has been making a name for himself reaching out to ordinary people across the world. Earlier this month he called 19-year-old engineering student Stefano Cabizza, blessing him and asking that they call one another by their first names. He let a Down-syndrome boy sit in the Popemobile with him in Vatican City, and spent time visiting families in the Rio de Janeiro slums during the World Youth Day festivities.

The Pope’s personal compassion gave Pereyra renewed hope, she said. “He restored faith and peace in me and gave me strength to carry on fighting,” she said. “When I heard the Pope’s voice, I felt like being touched by God.”

105 comments
GreenClouds4
GreenClouds4

@MariaLaoise Woah! Totally will. Wdn't have bothered with Benedict but tiny almost hopeless hope Francis might be open to being open-minded.

hypomanicII
hypomanicII

@MperiousRex Yes, I know, and that's terrific. But seriously, not a word about what's going on in Syria?

stevebeste
stevebeste

@steveschale Episcopalian is right up there next to RC in God's eyes. ;) Pope Francis is a good man.

hypomanicII
hypomanicII

@MperiousRex I think the Pope needs to gets his tweets aligned with his live sermons. Otherwise, twitter will be an ineffectual tool 4 him.

stevebeste
stevebeste

@steveschale @Pontifex The Priests say I'm RC b/c I was baptized in their church, but I was raised Methodist and had to get Baptized again

MperiousRex
MperiousRex

@hypomanicII I was raised Catholic too, went to parochial school. Feel free to criticize all that. Just don't miss your real target.

hypomanicII
hypomanicII

@MperiousRex Did you miss my "I was raised Catholic" tweet? There is so much to criticize. One Pope isn't enough to erase all that.

MperiousRex
MperiousRex

@hypomanicII I kinda figured that was the source of your irritation. I mean, he is the leader of it and all.

hypomanicII
hypomanicII

@MperiousRex No, sorry. And I have no issue with him personally. The institution he represents is another matter.

MperiousRex
MperiousRex

@hypomanicII You seem to be desperate to find a reason to criticize him; now he doesn't use Twitter well. Dalai Lama hasn't said anything...

ConorMWalsh
ConorMWalsh

@Stef_Muller Can't argue-my hope is this Pope is going to bring a lot of reforms. I hope & pray for day we have a woman as Pope. He may too!

Stef_Muller
Stef_Muller

@ConorMWalsh Yeah. Atheists (Stalin, Pol Pot) have done some atrocious things too. Makes one wonder.

ConorMWalsh
ConorMWalsh

@Stef_Muller You read a lot? All the best people do! :-) Really enjoyed chatting-have to go offline now, hope to continue, like your style.

ConorMWalsh
ConorMWalsh

@Stef_Muller Major issue to me-one of the biggest-what Christians,Catholics & otthers (Lutherans!) have inflicted on Jewish people. Horrific

ConorMWalsh
ConorMWalsh

@Stef_Muller Also good question-IMHO Church custodian of art treasures for humanity in sundry collections, churches,museums, monasteries etc

ConorMWalsh
ConorMWalsh

@Stef_Muller I loved Sagan, now still dip into Hitchens's "Arguably". A clever priest once said to me truth is truth wherever iot is found.

Stef_Muller
Stef_Muller

@ConorMWalsh Another thing tht bugs me abt Catholic church - it has billions - couldn't it do more for the poor?(Camel/eye of needle aside.)

ConorMWalsh
ConorMWalsh

@Stef_Muller That is a strong idea in some Hasidic Jewish teaching- that God will be asked to justify God's failures in human history....

ConorMWalsh
ConorMWalsh

@Stef_Muller Ha! French friend said Church is a poison-& its antidote! BTW I think Dawkins a bit crude & silly. Cleverer atheists out there?

ConorMWalsh
ConorMWalsh

@Stef_Muller All fair & valid. Would say Church has done good things in some-many-countries, in Africa too. Health,education,soc justice-no?

Stef_Muller
Stef_Muller

@ConorMWalsh A virus?! That sounds like a bad thing. (Richard Dawkins also descibed religion a virus too.)

Stef_Muller
Stef_Muller

@ConorMWalsh No worries. I always say the only thing that can convince me god exists is good. (He/she/it wouldve a lot of explaining to do!)

Stef_Muller
Stef_Muller

@ConorMWalsh (It is having trouble reforming.) But don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of more moderate Christianity either.

Stef_Muller
Stef_Muller

@ConorMWalsh ...Magdalene Laundries, role in the brutal conquest of S American peoples, the Inquisition also makes me view it negatively.

Stef_Muller
Stef_Muller

@ConorMWalsh I'd say the RCC is misogynistic. More dogmatic than the rest of Christianity. But sex abuse scandals, anti-condom stance, ...

Stef_Muller
Stef_Muller

@ConorMWalsh What always bugged me though (even when I was a Christian) was that if you didn't believe in Jesus you'd go to hell. Cont

Stef_Muller
Stef_Muller

@ConorMWalsh I don't know what I was. Didn't really follow a specific denomination. Was influenced by very devout friends, mostly. Cont...

ConorMWalsh
ConorMWalsh

@Stef_Muller I like that very much-please note I have no interest in trying to convert-to me faith is a virus. Some have it, some don't

ConorMWalsh
ConorMWalsh

@Stef_Muller Oh interesting - what were you? Evangelical? When did you lose your faith? Do you see Catholicism as especially misogynist?

Stef_Muller
Stef_Muller

@ConorMWalsh No, I was a Christian once. I am not into god in general but yes, I guess Catholicism does make me bristle.

ConorMWalsh
ConorMWalsh

@Stef_Muller Am always interested in this-how some atheists specifically don't want to believe in Catholic God! :-) Were you always atheist?