Pope phones theologian for favor: to prepare him, Curia for Easter

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January 13, 2016

Servite Father Ermes Ronchi, an Italian theologian, has been asked by Pope Francis to lead the pope's annual Lenten retreat in Ariccia, a town about 20 miles southeast of Rome. Father Ronchi is pictured in Rome in this Sept. 29, 2012, file photo. (CNS photo/Cristian Gennari) See VATICAN-LENTEN-REFLECTIONS Jan. 13, 2016.

Servite Father Ermes Ronchi, an Italian theologian, has been asked by Pope Francis to lead the pope’s annual Lenten retreat in Ariccia, a town about 20 miles southeast of Rome. Father Ronchi is pictured in Rome in this Sept. 29, 2012, file photo. (CNS photo/Cristian Gennari)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis phoned a noted Italian theologian to ask him for a “favor” — to help him and Vatican officials prepare for Easter by leading an annual Lenten retreat, the theologian said.

The pope calling his cellphone caught Servite Father Ermes Ronchi by surprise, he said, and “my first reaction was trepidation, excitement.”

“When he told me that he had a favor to ask me, I didn’t hesitate and answered, ‘But of course, go ahead, whatever you need …,'” the priest told his local newspaper, Messaggero Veneto, Jan. 12.

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