“We must not lose our sense of humor,” and Pope Francis thanked the journalist “for fulfilling your vocation, even if it means giving the pope a hard time.”
VATICAN CITY — After a journalist reported on Pope Francis’ surprise visit to a record store, the pope surprised him back — by writing him a letter.
Javier Martínez-Brocal, director of the Rome-based news agency Roman reports, tweeted on January 11 a black and white photo of the pope walking out of a record store near the Pantheon in Rome. The photo went viral as people wanted to know, “What did he buy?” The reporter also captured video of the encounter.
But as the pope left the shop with a record, he came for another purpose: to visit the owner, an old friend of his, and bless the newly renovated shop.
Following the incident, Martínez-Brocal apologized to the pope for interfering at the time.
“I’m sorry that the freedom-loving pope has to stay in his residence, because every move he makes is filmed,” Martínez-Brocal said in a statement. Roman reports video released on January 14. “I wrote to him to apologize and to say that, on the other hand, a story like this, which can make people smile, is important in a time when one only hears about tragedies.”
To his surprise, the pontiff replied. Pope Francis confirmed seeing the photo and even thanked Martínez-Brocal for his “noble” message, Vatican News reported.
Pope Francis revealed he had tried to keep his visit a secret, joking that “it cannot be denied that it was a ‘terrible fate’ that after taking all precautions there was a journalist waiting for someone at the taxi stand”.
He continued: “We must not lose our sense of humor” and thanked the journalist “for having fulfilled your vocation, even if it meant giving the Pope a hard time”.
On a more serious note, he added that he misses walking the streets of the city freely.
“What I miss most about this diocese is not being able to ‘wander the streets’, like I did in Buenos Aires, walking from one parish to another,” he wrote.
Martínez-Brocal reacted to the Pope’s letter.
“I think the pope recognizes the importance of a journalist’s work, even if it is sometimes uncomfortable for him or causes him problems,” he said. “But he’s grateful for this service to honestly report on events as they happen.”
The pope did not reveal what kind of music the traders offered him. This part of his visit, it seems, he kept a mystery.
Pope Francis is passionate about music. Its music library, curated by the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, houses nearly 2,000 CDs and 19 vinyl records, Catholic News Service reported. The recordings include music from the pope’s personal collection as well as music the pope received as a gift.
Most of the library is classical, but it also includes Edith Piaf, Argentine tango tunes, and a 25-disc collection of gospel songs by Elvis Presley.