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‘Grandmother’ Comment Earns Pope Francis A Call From Merkel

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Pope Francis shared the story of an angry phone call he received from German Chancellor Angela Merkel after he compared Europe to “barren woman” that can’t have children.

In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere delle Sera, the pope recalled the phone call from 2014, in relation to comments he made on the political climate in Europe when he addressed the European Parliament. Francis compared Europe to a “grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant.”

“She was a bit angry because I had compared Europe to a barren woman, incapable of producing children,” Francis said.

The comment may have hit close to home for Merkel, who is childless herself and runs a country where the birthrate has dropped by almost one child per woman over the past 55 years. Francis calmed Merkel down by saying there is still hope for the continent.

“She asked me if I really thought Europe could no longer make children. I told her yes it can, and many, because Europe has strong and deep roots,” Francis said. “In the darkest moments, [Europe] has always shown itself to have unexpected resources.”

A spokeswoman for Merkel said she has no recollection of the phone call with the pope, and that she “values any meeting with him extremely.”

“The chancellor does not recall a phone call with the pope,” a spokesman for Merkel told AFP.

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