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Pope, Space Station Crew Discuss Love, ‘Man’s Place In Universe’ During Live Link-Up

Pope Francis (file photo)

Pope Francis conducted a live phone conversation with the crew of the International Space Station (ISS), discussing love and "man’s place in the universe."

The 20-minute call to the 53rd ISS expedition on October 26 was the second call from a pope to space. Pope Benedict XVI phoned the space station in 2011.

Italian astronaut and engineer Paolo Nespoli led the conversation for the crew, speaking in Italian to the pope and translating comments from other members. The pope spoke from the meeting room of the Paul VI Hall, which sits partially in the Vatican and partially in Rome.

The crew also consists of two Russian cosmonauts -- Aleksandr Misurkin and Sergei Ryazansky -- and three Americans Joe Acaba, Mark Vande Hei, and Commander Randy Bresnik.

In response to the pope’s questions about man's place in the universe, Vande Hei said that observing the planet from space made him "realize how fragile we are."

Bresnik told the pope that it is possible from space to see a world without borders or conflicts.

The pope also asked the crew about the role of "love, which moves the sun and the other stars."

Speaking in English, Ryazansky noted that the crew was representing "different countries, different people, people of our planet."

He said his great joy was to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Mikhail, who had worked as chief guidance designer on Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, which the Soviet Union launched in 1957.

With reporting by Radio Vatican, NASA, and The Guardian