Caritas Rome provides accommodation through its shelters to poor and vulnerable individuals needing a place to sleep. Some people staying at the shelters have written the below letter to Pope Francis following Lenten reflections. The letter was presented to the Holy Father by the director of Caritas Rome, Msgr Enrico Feroci.
We are guests at Caritas shelters in Rome. Even though you have been Bishop of Rome for very little time, we feel a sense of respect and solidarity which makes us feel very close to you and gives us the impression that we’ve always known you.
The choice of your name and what you say in your speeches which we have reflected on during Lent show us daily the essence of the Christian faith: that God is love.
Our difficult situation allows us to know firsthand how important a gesture of solidarity can be and the comfort a hug or a handshake can bring. We also know the hurt caused by indifference and certain annoyed looks and attitudes.
When you were elected you asked us all to pray to the Lord to give you the strength to face the difficulties linked to your service. You can be sure that as we promised emeritus Pope Benedict XVI when he came to visit us at our hostel in February 2010, our prayers will always be with you. We will be beside you and we thank the Lord for having given us some like you.
Thank you for everything and for having given up a little time to read our message.
With fraternal affection and devotion
Guests at Caritas Rome shelters
Pope Francis as he blesses the crowd at St Peter’s Square on his election. Caritas/Patrick Nicholson
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By Michelle Hough, Caritas Internationalis
It’s 8.30am on Valentine’s Day, I’m at Rome’s Termini Station and I’m waiting for the Pope. Working for Caritas is never boring and can sometimes be quite surreal.
This year is European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. Caritas Europa has launched a big campaign called “Zero Poverty”. Bishops around Italy and the whole of Europe are visiting social services projects in their dioceses today to show solidarity with the poor. Pope Benedict, as Bishop of Rome, has come to the Caritas hostel at Termini Station.
I’m in a press enclosure with other Caritas colleagues and journalists and the Pope will come by on the raised walkway any minute. I’m almost 6 feet tall in my heels but we’re far too low to get a good view. I feel a bit like Zacchaeus, the diminutive tax collector out of the bible, he climbed up a tree to get a better view when Jesus walked by. I think about heaving myself up onto the railings so I can get a good photo for the Caritas website, but I might just end up being told off by the Pope’s bodyguards.
Even though it’s purely coincidental that Pope Benedict is visiting the hostel on Valentine’s Day (today is also Saints Cyril and Methodius’ Day for the Church), you could say that love is the theme of the Pope’s visit.
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