Tag Archives: beggars

Pope of the poor

I am a fan of Pope Francis. Let me amend that statement. I am a big fan of this Pope.

Since the first moment he became the head of the Roman Catholic Church this man has consistently demonstrated a preferential treatment to the poor. He has an authentic spirituality that reflects the love of Christ, and he is changing the culture of the Church. He is a true leader and his faithfulness to the gospel is worth paying attention to.

This recent article by Sébastien Maillard is a good example of why I admire Pope Francis. We could all take lessons from the treatment of the poor by this Pope.

In Francis’ Vatican, the Homeless Get VIP Treatment

Posted: 03/26/2015 2:00 pm EDT Updated: 03/26/2015 2:00 pm EDT

“Following Francis” is a monthly blog on the latest happenings of Pope Francis. It is prepared exclusively for The WorldPost by Sébastien Maillard, Vatican Correspondent for La Croix, Rome

ROME — Visitors had to leave the Sistine Chapel earlier than usual on the afternoon of March 26 — before 4:00 p.m. — and not because of some exclusive VIP event. A group of around 150 homeless were granted a private visit before being offered supper inside the Vatican Museums’ cafeteria. They were separated into three groups, with a guide showing the masterpiece of Michelangelo as part of a tour of the Vatican’s museums and gardens. The session also included passing close by Santa Marta’s residence, where Pope Francis lives and works.

After the visit, Francis greeted the homeless: “Welcome, this is a house for all. Your house.” He then spent 20 minutes meeting his special guests, one by one.

Homeless people don’t appear as just words in a speech or a prayer for the “pope of the poor.” They have become part of the Vatican’s daily life. On March 22, 400 of them helped deliver pocket Gospels that Francis was offering to the crowd gathered on St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer at noon. One hundred homeless people also did the same a month before, handing out another booklet for Lent.

The Vatican not only attracts tourists worldwide but also beggers standing around Bernini’s colonnade. At night, some homeless find shelter at the doorstep of Vatican offices. In Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio used to walk all by himself, as cardinal, inside the slums surrounding Argentina’s capital. He cannot do this anymore as the bishop of Rome, so he told Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, whom he appointed as almoner, “You can sell your desk. You don’t need it … You need to go out and look for the poor.”

transforming the Jericho Road

We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will only be the initial act. One day…the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I call this transformation crossing the bridge from compassion to justice. It’s not enough to respond to the sight of the poor and hungry with a reactionary gift. It’s not enough to even give regularly to help feed and care for those we know are in need.

Both are good. And both make a real difference. But neither is what is truly needed.

An infection cannot be cured with bandaids.

We can end hunger in our lifetime. We can change the world forever. But to do so requires more than compassion.

Ending hunger in our lifetime requires us to take the bone away from the dog. It requires us to confront the systems that oppress the poor and hungry and say ” Enough. No more.”

We can transform the Jericho Road. It just requires justice.