Pope phones Argentine woman who wrote to him about rape

Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:42pm EDT
 
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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis has phoned an Argentine woman to comfort her and tell her she is not alone after she wrote a letter to him saying she was raped by a policeman.

Francis has brought an informal, friendly style to the papacy since his election in March, including a habit of telephoning people who write to him with personal stories that catch his attention.

Alejandra Pereyra, 44, told Argentine television Canal 10 that at first she froze and had to ask him to repeat his name but she felt "touched by the hand of God" when she realized she was the latest person to receive a personal call from Francis.

In a video of the interview posted on YouTube, she said the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics told her during the half-hour conversation on August 25 he received thousands of letters every day but her story had moved him.

Pereyra wrote in her letter that she felt victimized twice; once when she was raped and then when she was threatened and pressurized by investigators when she reported it. Authorities have dismissed her allegations, local press reported.

Francis - the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina - told her she was not alone and that she should have faith in justice.

This month Francis also called the mother and brother of an Italian petrol station manager who was shot dead in June, and a 19-year-old student who left him a letter during a Mass.

(Reporting by Catherine Hornby, additional reporting by Alejandro Lifschitz in Buenos Aires, editing by Elizabeth Piper/Jeremy Gaunt)

 
Pope Francis waves as he arrives for a private visit at the Saint Agostino church in Rome August 28, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi