Vatican Corner 11-29-14

Vatican Corner 11-29-14

In Early October 2014, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the
Papal Almoner, the head of the department that distributes
charity on behalf of the Pope, was talking to Franco a
homeless man from Sardinia and found out that it was his
50th birthday. The man had been living on the streets of
Rome for ten years. The Archbishop invited him to a
Chinese restaurant for dinner, but the man declined, saying
that he thought that the restaurant would not let him in
because of his odor. Nonetheless, they went to dinner. The
Archbishop learned that the homeless man had seen many
companions die from the cold over the years. He also
learned that the man never has trouble finding food at
charity kitchens in Rome, but he does have difficulty
finding a place to use the toilet and wash himself. The
Archbishop had heard similar stories from other homeless
people, where if a facility can be found, it is very crowded
and there is little time for its use. Barbara, a Polish woman
who lives in a tent with her t
eenage son and with a
companion who is an out of work mason, has explained
that some organizations do offer shower facilities to the
homeless in Rome, “but there are so many things you have
to do. You have to get there at 4 in the morning to sign in.
Then only 15 people get in each
day. “In addition, because
the number of homeless men is so much greater than the
number of homeless women, many of the shower facilities
are only for men or are open to women only a half day
each week. Archbishop Konrad
, who had previously
considered food as the primary
need of the homeless,
decided there was no time to lose. He said he is used to
acting immediately, without making grand plans, without
organizing fundraisers that take months. He said In the
Gospel, Jesus always uses the word “today”… And it is
today that we must respond to people’s needs. So he
decides to visit ten parishes in areas of Rome where many
homeless people live. He enters parish halls. If they do not
already exist, he asks that showers be built, paid by the
Pope’s charity. They are not
expensive projects, they are
not designed for large groups, but rather a diffused service
for the people in the neighborhoods of a city where public
restrooms are closed and the homeless cannot go into cafés
to use the toilet. The call went out for donations of money,
soap, towels and clean underwear. Acclaimed Italian tenor
Andrea Bocelli, through his foundation, made a substantial
donation to the cause as well as
a firm that builds showers.
From those efforts, ten parishes have already renovated or
will renovate their public toilets to include showers.
Archbishop Konrad also requested and got a significant
change to an existing project at the Vatican to renovate the
public restrooms at St. Peter’s square. On November 17th,
2014, work began that will include three showers for the
homeless. The homeless will be able to wash and get clean
underwear beneath the windows of the Apostolic Palace.
Sources: Vatican Insider,
National Catholic Reporter