In less than a week Pope Francis has delivered several surprises: he called the Superior General of the Jesuits, nearly giving the receptionist a heart attack, made an impromptu visit to a nearby hospital to visit his friend Cardinal Mejia, who had a heart attack during the conclave, and decided to celebrate Mass at the tiny Vatican parish of Santa Anna. It should not have been surprising then that he would make an impromptu phone call to Buenos Aires and ask to be connected to Plaza de Mayo where people were gathering to watch his installation Mass.
Celebrations in Buenos Aires began Monday night with a vigil in Plaza de Mayo, directly in front of the Cathedral. At 4am the faithful were scheduled to march from the Cathedral to the famous obelisk on Avenida Corrientes. Jumbo screens were set up at the obelisk for the people of Buenos Aires to watch their beloved Archbishop begin his Petrine Ministry.
Before the march started, at 3:30am in Buenos Aires, Pope Francis made one phone call home. He called Father Alejandro Russo, the rector of the Cathedral of Buenos Aires. Very quietly, Fr. Russo had arranged to the archdiocese's television station connect the phone call to the sound system in the plaza where the faithful of Buenos Aires were gathered.
El Clarin, a national newspaper in Argentina, reports Fr. Russo was speaking to the crowds in the plaza and announced he had a surprise for the crowd. The call from the Holy Father was connected and as soon as people recognized his voice, tears started flowing in the plaza.
Giving the faithful a preview of what would be in his homily, he asked them to take care of each other, especially the weak, poor, elderly and children. He asked the people of Buenos Aires, "don't let there be hate, or arguments among you, leave behind envy and don't talk about people behind their backs." Pope Francis called on the faithful of his former diocese to draw closer to God because "he always forgives" and then asked "please don't forget this bishop who is far away but who loves you very much." He ended the call invoking God's blessing on the people of Buenos Aires.