It was fun having a Nazi supervillain as pope, but it wasn't very good for the Catholic Church brand. The new pope, Francis, is working hard at giving the papacy a nicer public image. If you're bummed out about a relationship, for example, he'll call you and talk you through it.
Pope Francis—who in reality is a 76-year-old Argentine church bureaucrat named Jorge Mario Bergoglio—is getting a reputation for saying relatively nonjudgmental things to random Catholics. He reportedly told a gay man in France that homosexuality is nothing for people to get worked up about, and a sad engineering student apparently got a friendly papal "buck up" after writing to the Vatican with worries about ever finding a job in Italy's terrible economy. Even gay priests and atheists get shout-outs from the friendly pope, who says it really isn't his business to judge.
The latest recipient of an encouraging telephone call from Pope Francis is Anna Romano, a 35-year-old who got dumped by her boyfriend after he got her pregnant and told her to get an abortion. She basically wrote a Santa Claus letter to the Vatican and was surprised to get a call back from a nice old fellow claiming to be Pope Francis. He discouraged her from getting an abortion, as you would expect from a Catholic guy, but he also promised to baptize her bastard child if her local pastor refused. This is one baby that won't automatically go to Hell because his parents aren't legally married!
Although Francis is chief executive the world's richest organization, he did not offer Romano an apartment in the Vatican or a couple of hundred thousand Euros to raise the child to college age.
[Photo via Getty Images.]