“Don’t Flay or Skin Anyone Alive”: The Pope’s Surprise Phone Call to Buenos Aires

The faithful were not sleeping last night in Buenos Aires!  In fact, thousands of them were standing in the cool summer air—gathered in the Plaza de Mayo, the main square of Buenos Aires, expecting to watch the new Pope’s inaugural Mass.

And what a surprise they got!  At 7:32 a.m. Rome time (3:32 a.m. in Argentina), the loudspeakers in the Plaza began broadcasting the familiar voice of their shepherd, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Clarin, an Argentine newspaper, reported that the Pope had placed a call to Fr. Alejandro Russo, rector of the cathedral.  The archdiocesan television centre was then able to patch the call through to Plaza de Mayo, so that the Pope could speak directly to the crowds gathered there.

“Dear sons and daughters,” Pope Francis said in greeting to his former parishioners, “I know you have gathered in the square. I know that you are saying prayers, I need them very much. It is beautiful to pray because we look to heaven and know that we have a good Father who is God.”

The Vatican Information Service reports the rest of the Pope’s remarks:

“I want to ask a favour of you. I want to ask for us to walk together, to care for one another, for you to care for each other. Do not cause harm. Protect life. Protect the family; protect nature; protect the young; protect the elderly. Let there not be hatred or fighting. Put aside envy.” And, in the city’s slang, he added: “No le saquen el cuero a nadie [literally, “don't flay or skin anyone alive”, that is, don't gossip, don't criticize one another]. Talk with one another so that this desire to protect each other might grow in your hearts. And draw near to God. God is good. He always forgives and understands. Do not be afraid of him. Draw near to him and may the Virgin bless you. May she, as a mother, protect you. Please do not forget this bishop who is far away but who loves you very much. Pray for me!”

“Through the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, and each of your guardian angels, the glorious patriarch St. Joseph, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, and each of your protector saints, may God All-mighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you,” Francis concluded, imparting the papal blessing to all present before closing the connection.