(The Telegraph UK) Pope Francis has made one of his trademark out-of-the-blue calls to express his concern for children who are dying of cancer and leukaemia allegedly caused by toxic waste burnt by the mafia in an area of Italy known as the Land of Fires.
The Pope called the mobile phone of a nun, identified only as Sister Teresa, as she was in the middle of teaching a classroom of children in the town of Casal di Principe, a stronghold of the Camorra mafia near Naples.
She was one of 150,000 people who sent the Jesuit Pope postcards with photographs of children who have died of cancer and other illnesses in the region north of Naples, which is known in Italian as â€œLa Terra dei Fuochiâ€.
She had written her mobile phone number on one of the postcards, along with a prayer for the dead children.
Like many of the people who have received impromptu phone calls from Pope Francis since he was elected eight months ago, she initially thought the call was a prank and did not believe that the pontiff was on the other end of the line.
â€œCiao, itâ€™s Pope Francis,â€ the pontiff told her, before expressing his dismay about the plight of children and adults who have developed tumours and other illnesses believed to be connected to the Camorraâ€™s lucrative practice of burning and burying huge amounts of toxic industrial rubbish.
Sister Teresa, a member of the order of the Daughters of Saint Anne, recounted the conversation to a priest friend and said her pupils were amazed to learn that Pope Francis was on the phone.
”The kids got incredibly excited as soon as she mentioned that the Holy Father was on the other end of the line,â€ said Father Maurizio Patriciello, a priest who organised the sending of the postcards and who led a protest march in Naples at the weekend against the disposal of toxic waste.
An estimated 50,000 people took part in the march, chanting â€œNo to the Camorraâ€ [more]