A divorced woman from Argentina claims Pope Francis cold-called her Monday to inform her that it’s alright for her and her second husband to take communion.
In what would amount to a break from Catholic doctrine, Jacqui Lisbona and her husband, Julio Sabetta, were allegedly told by the pontiff that there was nothing wrong with them taking part in the Lord’s Supper.
Catholic doctrine states that divorcees who remarry are banned from participating in communion, one of the Catholic Church’s most important sacraments, unless the marriage has been annulled.
The Vatican is distancing itself from the reports. In a statement quoted by the Argentinian newspaper La Nación on Thursday, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said, "Pope Francis has made several phone calls in the realm of pastoral relationships. Since it is not a public activity, we should not expect any information or comments from the [Vatican’s] Press Office."
"As the news reported on the issue belongs to the realm of personal relationships, their media amplification has no confirmed reliability and is a source of misunderstanding and confusion. Therefore, it should be avoided to deduct from this circumstance any consequences related to the teachings of the Church," he added.
Pope Francis, who earlier this year said that divorced people should be “accompanied” and not “condemned,” called Lisbona introducing himself as “Father Bergoglio” before apologizing for taking six months to reply.
Six months ago the woman wrote a letter to Pope Francis saying she was considering taking communion at a church where she is a stranger, but fearing that it would be “violating Church rules.”
"She spoke with the Pope, and he said she was absolved of all sins and she could go and get the Holy Communion because she was not doing anything wrong," Pope Francis purportedly told Lisbona.
Lisbona, who married Sabetta in a civil ceremony more than 20 years ago and has two teenage daughters with him, said that she has felt exiled by her local Church and condemned for remarrying.
“[The priest] told me that every time I went home, I was going back to living in sin,” she said.
Speaking of Lisbona’s local priest, Pope Francis allegedly said that “There are some priests who are more papist than the Pope.”
Pope Francis, who has asked bishops around the world to survey members of their parishes about divorce and issues, has become well known for making calls to the faithful.
At the beginning of the year he made a cold call to wish a group of nuns in a Spanish convent Happy New Year. Only he got their answering machine, instead.
"What are the nuns doing that they can't answer the phone?" Francis asked in the message he left, the recording of which was obtained by Spain's El Mundo newspaper and broadcast on Italian media.
"This is Pope Francis. I wanted to offer you greetings for the end of the year. Maybe I'll try to call again later. May God bless you," he said.