Wednesday, October 14, 1998 Published at 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Pope picks up the phone
Presenter Bruno Vespa: "Even journalists sometimes have a soul"
An Italian television presenter was moved to tears when he had an unexpected telephone conversation with Pope John Paul II, live on air.
"I would like to thank you, and everyone taking part, all those taking part in your discussion - to cordially thank you for everything you have said and done for this 20th anniversary. Many thanks," the Pope told presenter Bruno Vespa.
"Even journalists sometimes have a soul," he said, adding that he was stunned and delighted that the Pope had been watching.
The special edition programme included interviews with figures such as former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, former Polish President Lech Walesa and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Riccardo Muti led an orchestra in the Sistine Chapel and Luciano Pavarotti sang "Ave Maria" from his home in Modena.
On Wednesday, the Vatican confirmed that Tuesday's caller was indeed the Pope, who is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his election to the papacy.
The Polish-born John Paul is the first East-European to lead the Roman Catholic Church.
A special Mass in planned for Sunday on St Peter's Square, Rome, to mark the anniversary.