Trigger Warning: This post contains a description of sexual assault that may be triggering for survivors.
After writing a letter to Pope Francis, 44-year-old Alejandra Pereya got a call from the Pope himself last Sunday afternoon. The letter that she sent to him earlier this month contained her story: she was raped, and her family was harassed by the local police. In the midst of being raped, Pereya wrote to the Pope that the police officer also pointed a pistol at her head. Here’s an excerpt of the story below:
I am mother to six biological children and have brought up six others, three of which have disabilities. One day, one of these children was playing with a ball on the sidewalk in front of our house, when a policeman came by and called out to him. He didn’t get a response so the policeman took an Ithaca rifle and pointed it at the child’s chin. I went to the courts in Rio Segundo and reported the incident. Since then, me and my family have been continually harassed by the police.
With all the pain I carry in my heart, dear Holy Father, I ask you for your help because after all the talk of rape, they finally did it. One night in September 2008, around midnight, a police car turned up at our house and a policeman who presented himself as police chief Sergio Braccamonte, got out … he pointed a service pistol at my head and raped me.
“When I heard the Pope’s voice, it was like feeling the hand of God,” said Pereya, in an interview with a Cordoba television station. When she answered her phone that afternoon, Pereya asked who called, in which Pope Francis simply said, “It’s the Pope.”
Recently, Pope Francis has made a slew individual phone calls. He’s called an Italian man who’s struggled with forgiving God after the death of his brother and the owner of a Buenos Aires kiosk who delivers his papers.
Imagine the Pope just calling you up and saying, “Hey, it’s me, you know, the Pope.” NBD, right?
The convo between Pope Francis and Pereya lasted for about half an hour. Pereya said it centered on faith and trust; the Pope conscientiously listened to her story. He explained to her that he receives thousands of letters daily, but her story touched him. “The Pope told me that I am not alone and that I should have faith that justice will be done,” said Pereya.
Pereya told the TV station that she hasn’t received justice at all. She alleges that local officials have covered up the crime, declined to listen to her story, and have even given her alleged perpetrator a promotion.
Although there hasn’t been any progress, Pereya truly feels comforted by the Pope’s personal call, and he even extended an invitation for the two to meet. “I’ll do anything now to go to the Vatican,” says Pereya.
Photo via Time