It has long been claimed by supporters of the Catholic faith that God moves in mysterious ways.
But so, apparently, does Pope Francis’s personal lift in the Vatican – which broke down on Sunday, trapping the world’s most powerful clergyman inside for 25 minutes.
The 82-year-old pontiffhad to be freed by Vatican firefighters after an electrical fault brought his tiny private lift to a halt inside the ornate Apostolic Palace.
He arrived about 10 minutes late for his regular Sunday audience after the rescue team was called to repair the lift and to free him.
“I have to apologise for being late, but there was an accident,” the pope said with a smile. “I was trapped inside an elevator for 25 minutes. There was an increase in tension.
“Thank God the firefighters arrived, I want to thank them so much.”
The firefighters were quickly summoned from their station inside the Vatican walls just a few hundred yards from where the pontiff was trapped.
Once freed, the relieved pontiff asked the pilgrims gathered in the square to give the fire brigade a round of applause.
The small private lift is known as the “little elevator of Pope Sixtus” because it links the courtyard named after the 16th century pope to the lavishly decorated papal apartment which Francis has shunned since his election in 2013.
He lives at the Santa Marta residence inside the Vatican walls but continues the tradition of blessing the crowds from the palace window every Sunday.
In a separate statement on Sunday, Francis called for urgent action to stop the planet’s environmental destruction and warned the Amazon was “gravely threatened” in a reference to the fires that have recently ravaged the region.
He challenged governments to take “drastic measures” to combat global warming and reduce the use of fossil fuels, saying the world was experiencing a climate emergency.
He blamed “sin, selfishness and a greedy desire to possess and exploit” for the damaging effects of climate change in a message to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
It is not the first time the Catholic Church’s first Latin American pope has lashed out about the damage caused by the Amazon fires.
Last week he called for united action to extinguish the fires saying “that lung of forests is vital for our planet”. The pope said the upcoming UN Climate Action Summit was of particular importance.
“There, governments will have the responsibility of showing the political will to take drastic measures to achieve as quickly as possible zero net greenhouse gas emissions and to limit the average increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius with respect to pre-industrial levels, in accordance with the Paris Agreement goals.”
Francis has made environmental protection one of the hallmarks of his papacy and openly clashed with climate change skeptics like American President Donald Trump, who took the US out of the Paris climate accord.
“We have caused a climate emergency that gravely threatens nature and life itself, including our own,” said Francis, the leader of the world’s 1.3 billon Roman Catholics.