08:35 GMT +324 October 2018
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    Holy Chat! The Pope Called Space Today and This Is What It Had to Say

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    The voice of Pope Francis has been heard in the heavens after he called the six astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) for a chat about their work and thoughts.

    Speaking via a space-to-ground link from the Vatican City, the conversation between the Pope and the six astronauts was streamed online on the Vatican's YouTube channel as well as NASA television.

    Astronaut Randy Bresnik, the commander of the six person Expedition 53 crew orbiting 250 miles above the planet, told the pontiff:

    "What gives me the greatest joy every day is being able to look outside and see God's creation, maybe a little bit from his perspective. People cannot come up here and see the indescribable beauty of Earth and not be touched in their souls."

    Through a translator, the 80-year-old Pope said: "We should never forget our roots. It does me good to hear this from you, thank you."

    During the discussion, he asked the crew — representing three nations — Russia, Italy and the United States — what they thought of love being referred to as the force that moves the universe, and how they perceive their place in the cosmos.

    "When we speak of these eternal questions of where we come from, I remain rather perplexed. Our objective here is that of knowing our being, and to fill our knowledge, to understand what's around us. But on the other hand, an interesting thing is that the more we know, the more we realize how little we know," said Paolo Nespoli, who spoke with the previous pontiff Benedict XVI in 2011 while on the International Space Station. 

    The astronauts said they hoped their multi-national work together in space would serve as an example for people on Earth, which from above appears borderless, peaceful and serene.

    "As we work to get more access to space and more people can see that perspective from space, that maybe humanity's future is a lot better than what we have now," said Bresnik.

    Pope Francis asked for examples of how the crew works together, saying that 'our society is very individualistic, but instead what's essential to life is collaboration.

    NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, a former teacher, described how the multi-national crew works with teams on the ground from the US, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan.

    "It is our diversity that makes us stronger. I think we need to embrace who we are as individuals, and respect those around us. And by working together, we can do things much greater than we can do as individuals," said Acaba.

    "The totality is greater than the sum of the parts, and this is the example that you give us," the Pope replied.

    Final word was left with his countryman, Nespoli, who said: "Thank you for having brought us to a higher level, and to have pulled us out of this daily mechanic environment and to make us reflect on things that are greater than we are."


    Reach for the Stars: Pope Francis Calls International Space Station
    God, astronauts, phone conversation, religion, phone call, space, Vatican, International Space Station (ISS), Pope Francis, Vatican City
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