Pope Francis is known for making comforting calls to strangers, and this time he reportedly reached out to a man who murdered his parents 25 years ago, in a case that shocked Italy.
The man, Pietro Maso, now 45, wrote to the pope in 2013 begging for forgiveness after spending more than 20 years in jail for battering his mother and father with saucepans.
“I wrote a letter to the pope in which I asked forgiveness for what I did 25 years ago and that I was praying for peace,” Maso, who was released in 2013 and now lives in Milan, recently told the Italian weekly magazine Chi. “After a few days the telephone rang. I was with Stefania, my partner. I pick up and I hear: ‘It’s Francis, Pope Francis.’ ”
The phone call touched Maso so deeply that, “Now I will devote my life to others,” he said.
As to whether Francis did extend his forgiveness to Maso, the Vatican has said it cannot comment on the pope’s private phone calls.
Francis has phoned many struggling people who have written him. In December 2014, he called Diego Neria Lejérraga, a transgender man from Plasencia, Spain, who had written the pontiff to say he felt “left out” and “rejected” by the church.
Francis invited Neria and his partner to visit him at his home at Santa Marta, a dorm-style Vatican guesthouse, where they spent an hour together talking.
“In the presence of Pope Francis you feel loved, respected, embraced. I admired him before visiting, but that was nothing compared to the devotion I have for him now,” Neria told PEOPLE in 2015.
“Today, my soul is in peace, thanks to Pope Francis.”