POPE GRANTS INTERVIEW TO MAGAZINE RUN BY HOMELESS – LENTEN FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

Lent starts tomorrow, need I remind you, and I know there might be some uncertainty or confusion regarding the Church’s rules for fasting and abstinence – fasting and abstinence during Lent as well as the rest of the year.

Below, in a nutshell, are the fasting, etc. rules for Lent. I follow that paragraph with what the Code of Canon Law says about this, and then what the USCCB says.

In the meantime I hope you are having a splendid Mardi Gras as we prepare for leaner days to come!

POPE GRANTS INTERVIEW TO MAGAZINE RUN BY HOMELESS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has given a wide-ranging interview to an Italian magazine run by homeless persons. The interview was published on 28 February in the online magazine called “Scarp de’ tenis” (“Sneakers”).

The magazine also functions as a social project, as most of the staff is homeless, suffers difficult personal situations or forms of social exclusion. For most contributors, the magazine is an important source of income. “Scarp de’ tenis” entered into partnership with the Italian arm of the Vatican’s charity organization, Caritas, in 2008.

In the interview, Pope Francis was asked to explain his recent initiatives for refugees, such as providing accommodation in the Vatican. In his reply, the Pope explained how the initiative to welcome the homeless had inspired parishes throughout Rome to join the effort.

“Here in the Vatican there are two parishes, and both are housing Syrian families. Many parishes in Rome have also opened their doors and others, which don’t have a house for priests, have offered to pay rent for families in need, for a full year” he said.

Throughout the interview the Pope often referred to the idea of walking in each others shoes. According to the Pope, to walk in the other’s shoes is a way to escape our own egoism: “In the shoes of the other, we learn to have a great capacity for understanding, for getting to know difficult situations.”

The Pope maintains that words alone are not enough, what is needed, he said, is the “Greatness” to walk in the shoes of the other: “How often I have met a person who, after having searched for Christian comfort, be they a layman, a priest, a sister or a bishop, they tell me ‘they listened to me, but didn’t understand me.’”

During the interview, the Pope also joked about people’s attitudes concerning giving money to those who live on the streets. “There are many arguments which justify why we should not give these alms: ‘I give money and he just spends it on a glass of wine!’ A glass of wine is his only happiness in life!” joked Pope Francis.

There was also a lesson in generosity within the interview. The Pope told a story from his time in Buenos Aires, of a mother with five children. While the father was at work and the rest of the family ate lunch, a homeless man called in to ask for food. Rather than letting the children give away their father’s dinner for that evening, the mother taught the children to give away some of their own food: “If we wish to give, we must give what is ours!” insisted the Pope.

Regarding the question of limiting numbers of refugee and migrants who arrive in a particular place, the Pope first reminded his readers that many of those arriving are fleeing from war or hunger. All of us in this world, says the Pope, are part of this situation and need to find ways to help and benefit those around us. According to him, this responsibility is especially true of governments and the Pope used the example of the work of the Saint Egidio community (that has established humanitarian corridors for groups of vulnerable migrants) in order to make his point. Regarding the 13 refugees who arrived from Lesbos, the Pope pointed out that the families have integrated well into society, with the children being enrolled in schools and their parents having found work. This, according to Pope Francis, is an example of immigrants wanting to fit into and contribute to a new country, and achieving that desire.

To further underline his point, the Pope highlighted the case of Sweden, where almost 10% of the population, including the Minister for Culture, are immigrants. During his own life, in the difficult years of the military dictatorship in Argentina, the Pope often looked to the Swedish as a positive example of integration.

LENTEN FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

The basic rules: Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent. Every person between the age of 18 and 59 (beginning of 60th year) must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (image St Michael Catholic Church, Bedford TX)

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Here is what the 1983 Code of Canon Law says about fasting and abstinence: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P4O.HTM

Days of Penance

Can.  1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can.  1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

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Can.  1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can.  1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can.  1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

(JFL: Note that Canon law in 1251 says: “Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday.” It is my experience that the majority of Catholics do not know this, i.e. abstinence from meat or another food or an act of penance on all Fridays of the year.) Canon 1253, however, gives leeway on this via the Episcopal Conference of a country (see below).

USCCB (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops):  PASTORAL STATEMENT ON FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

A Statement Issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops November 18, 1966

Here is part of that statement:

21.  For these and related reasons, the Catholic bishops of the United States, far from downgrading the traditional penitential observance of Friday, and motivated precisely by the desire to give the spirit of penance greater vitality, especially on Fridays, the day that Jesus died, urge our Catholic people henceforth to be guided by the following norms.

22.  Friday itself remains a special day of penitential observance throughout the year, a time when those who seek perfection will be mindful of their personal sins and the sins of mankind which they are called upon to help expiate in union with Christ Crucified.

23. Friday should be in each week something of what Lent is in the entire year. For this reason we urge all to prepare for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday by freely making of every Friday a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ.

24. Among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance which we especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday, even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat. We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law. Our expectation is based on the following considerations:

  1. We shall thus freely and out of love for Christ Crucified show our solidarity with the generations of believers to whom this practice frequently became,especially in times of persecution and of great poverty, no mean evidence of fidelity to Christ and His Church.
  2. We shall thus also remind ourselves that as Christians, although immersed in the world and sharing its life, we must preserve a saving and necessary difference from the spirit of the world. Our deliberate, personal abstinence from meat, more especially because no longer required by law, will be an outward sign of inward spiritual values that we cherish.
  1. Every Catholic Christian understands that the fast and abstinence regulations admit of change, unlike the commandments and precepts of that unchanging divine moral law which the Church must today and always defend as immutable. This said, we emphasize that our people are henceforth free from the obligation traditionally binding under pain of sin in what pertains to Friday abstinence, except as noted above for Lent. We stress this so that “no” scrupulosity will enter into examinations of conscience, confessions, or personal decisions on this point.

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/us-bishops-pastoral-statement-on-penance-and-abstinence.cfm

 

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MCDONALD’S TO GIVE MEALS TO HOMELESS ON MONDAYS – THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKING…..IN THE VATICAN

Two heartwarming stories from the Vatican and a papal tweet…

01/12/2017: Young migrants, especially when unaccompanied, are especially defenceless. Let everyone offer them a helping hand.

MCDONALD’S TO GIVE MEALS TO HOMELESS ON MONDAYS

(Vatican Radio) The controversial McDonald’s fast-food restaurant that has just opened only steps away from St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City State is to provide thousands of free meals to homeless people in the area.

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The restaurant was opened at the beginning of the year after months of protest from locals and prelates who deemed it inappropriate for the unique historical setting of the building it is housed in, with a prime view on the Vatican’s Saint Anne Gate.

But a collaboration between the Borgo Pio branch of McDonald’s and a local charity organization called Medicina Sociale has yielded a fruitful agreement that promises to hand out over 1000 McDonald’s meals to homeless persons every Monday at lunchtime starting from January 16th.

The special “McVatican” – as the outlet has immediately been nicknamed – lunch boxes will include a double cheeseburger, fresh apple slices and a bottle of mineral water.

Lucia Ercoli, director of the charity organization, said she was “very satisfied with this agreement with McDonald’s” and pointed out that the fast-food chain responded “promptly” to their request.

‘Medicina Solidale’ has been working with the papal almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski over the past year, providing health check-ups and medical care to the local homeless community. Volunteers and workers at the charity will be charged with distributing the McDonald’s meals.

THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKING…..IN THE VATICAN

(Vatican Radio)  “He made boots for the Pope and was released from prison.” This is the story of Bobby Penny, the first inmate taken under the care of Deacon Thaddeus Horbowy, a retired chaplain for the US Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Deacon Horbowy told Devin Watkins the story of the pair of Texan boots during a recent trip to Rome.

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“Bobby Penny was my first inmate. He walked into my office and said, ‘Chaplain, I’ve been sent here by the warden to work as your helper.'”

The encounter took place in Abilene, Texas some 25 years ago at a prison facility which houses 3,000 inmates. Deacon Horbowy said he noticed that Mr. Penny was “somehow different; he didn’t have an attitude”.

Having worked well together for several years, Deacon Horbowy was promoted and moved to another prison in Texas but was allowed to have Bobby Penny transferred with him.

Despite being trained only in boot repair, Deacon Horbowy told Mr. Penny to make him a pair of boots, saying “You’ve got plenty of time. Learn it!” The result was impressive, he said.

After retiring, Deacon Horbowy was invited to come to Rome for Pope Francis’ Jubilee audience for Deacons. Not long before his pilgrimmage, Deacon Horbowy saw Mr. Penny in the Texas prison and asked him to make a pair of boots for the Pope.

Despite resistance from the prison’s warden, Mr. Penny was able to make the boots. Not long after their meeting, in a development which may or may not be related, Deacon Horbowy received a letter from Mr. Penny announcing he had made parole and was released from prison.

During his recent trip to Rome, Deacon Horbowy brought that pair of boots in hopes of presenting them to Pope Francis as a gift.

 

THE TABLES ARE TURNED ON VATICAN INSIDER – “POVERTY IS THE GREATEST WAR,” POPE TELLS HOMELESS – A NOVEMBER CONCERT TO BENEFIT THE HOMELESS – MERCY FRIDAY: POPE FRANCIS MEETS 7 YOUNG MEN WHO LEFT PRIESTHOOD

This final Jubilee of Mercy events, prior to the closing in coming days and next Sunday of the Holy Doors of the papal basilicas, take place this weekend and they feature the poor and homeless, as you shall see.

Today, contrary to my usual lunch routine, I took a brief break outside the office and met some friends from the U.S. for lunch as that was the only free time they had in their Italian pilgrimage. As I walked the three blocks to “La Vittoria,” scores of people were walking towards me, each person carrying one or more sizeable square white boxes on top of which was a small aluminum container like the kind you’d put leftover food in. I am guessing the boxes contained either a meal or a gift for the homeless who had just spent time with the Pope. As I was running a few minutes late for lunch, I did not stop to ask what the boxes were so that is just an educated guess but, knowing Pope Francis’ many gestures of this kind in the last three years, that would not surprise me..

THE TABLES ARE TURNED ON VATICAN INSIDER

Join me this weekend on Vatican Insider when the tables are turned and I am the guest in Part II of an interview by Paulist Fr. Dave Dwyer, host of the very popular Sirius radio program, “Busted Halo.” Fr. Dave interviewed me when I was in New York for a book-signing event, and we talk about my book, “A Holy Year in Rome,” my work, the Vatican, and so many topics. So tune in for a fun conversation, including a story about a unique day in my life.

I want to thank Fr. Dave as well as Sirius Radio for giving me the chance to air this fun program. I had a ball doing it and I think you’ll be able to tell when you listen – and you’ll probably laugh right along with us at several moments. Fr. Dave is really quite special and he touches the lives of many people through Busted Halo (http://bustedhalo.com/).

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

“POVERTY IS THE GREATEST WAR,” POPE TELLS HOMELESS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday welcomed to Rome more than 6000 people, men and women from various European nations, who have lived, or are even now, living on the street. The Jubilee for Socially Excluded Persons embraced not only the homeless, but also disadvantaged persons and people living in poverty. (photo news.va)

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The event was made possible with the help of “Fratello”, an association which organizes and hosts events with and for people in situations of exclusion, in partnership with associations assisting such people.

Following testimonies from two of the participants, Pope Francis addressed the crowd, speaking off the cuff and thanking them for coming to Rome to meet with him and to pray for him. The Holy Father reflected on some of the ideas brought up by the two men who spoke before him.

The first was that average human beings do not differ from the “great” of the world. All men and women, the great and the small, have their own passions and dreams. “Don’t stop dreaming!” the Pope insisted. The poor, he continued, are at the heart of the Gospel; they came to Jesus precisely because they dreamed that the Lord would help and heal them.

Pope Francis then turned to another expression, “Life becomes beautiful.” This signifies dignity, he said. “The ability to encounter beauty, even in things that involve the most sadness and suffering, is something that only men and women who have dignity can have.” He emphasized the virtue of solidarity, when people – especially those whose lives are difficult – are able to have compassion for others who are suffering even more. And he thanked those present for their example of solidarity, asking them to teach solidarity to the world.

Finally, Pope Francis spoke on the theme of peace, calling on everyone to continue to work in favour of peace in the world. “The greatest poverty is war!” he said. “It is the poverty that destroys… We need peace in the world! We need peace in the Church!”

Following his address, a group of the poor and disadvantaged, who had joined Pope Francis on the stage, gathered round the Pope, placing their hands on him, and praying for him.

(AP) – Pope Francis asked homeless people during a moving ceremony Friday to pardon all the Christians who turn away from the poor instead of helping them.

Francis stood silently in a Vatican auditorium with his head bowed as he let several homeless individuals place their hands on his shoulders or clutch his cassock.

Some 4,000 people from 22 countries who either are now homeless or who spent years living on streets filled the auditorium in one of Francis’ final events during the Catholic Church’s Holy Year of Mercy.

“I ask pardon,” the Pope said, on behalf of Christians who, “faced with a poor person or a situation of poverty, look the other way.”

After some of the homeless recounted their difficult lives, Francis praised the poor for holding fast to their dignity.

He asked his homeless guests to stay seated while he stood to pray that God “teach us to be in solidarity because we are brothers.”

A NOVEMBER CONCERT TO BENEFIT THE HOMELESS

The Vatican will host a concert for the homeless of Rome tomorrow, November 12, in the Paul VI Hall at 6:30 pm, with the homeless and poor as the guests of honor. All proceeds will be sent to Pope Francis for his charities. Among the sponsors is the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, the council that has been in charge of the Holy Year of Mercy.

Dubbed “With the Poor and for the Poor,” there will be the possibility at the end of the convert for attendees to give free-will donations for the papal charities, including the building of a new cathedral in Moroto, Uganda, and an agrarian school in Burkina Faso.

Following the concert, Jubilee Year volunteers and members of the choir of the Diocese of Rome will distribute a meal and a small gift to the invited guests as a reminder of the evening.

Performers include the Roman Symphonic Orchestra and the National Choir of Saint Cecilia, directed by Academy Award-winner Ennio Morricone. Some of his best works will be featured. Msgr. Marco Frisina will direct the choir of the Diocese of Rome.

Tomorrow morning at 10, in 8 Roman churches, there will be testimonies by homeless people from around Europe in as many languages. Those churches are: San Salvatore in Lauro (English) – Santa Monica (Dutch) – San Luigi dei Francesi (Portuguese) – Santi XII Apostoli (French) – San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini (Polish) – Santa Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) (German) – Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Italian) – Sant’Andrea della Valle (Spanish) and Santa Maria Maddalena in Campo Marzio (Slovakian).

At 5 tomorrow evening, there is a prayer Vigil of Mercy in St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.

MERCY FRIDAY: POPE FRANCIS MEETS 7 YOUNG MEN WHO LEFT PRIESTHOOD

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met a group of young men who have left the priesthood during the past years to show his closeness and affection towards them. His surprise visit to an apartment in the outskirts of Rome to meet with the group made up of five Italians, a Spaniard and a man from Latin America, came as part of his traditional gestures of Mercy on one Friday a month during this Jubilee Year.

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A Vatican statement said the young men in question took the difficult decision to leave the priesthood despite opposition in many cases from their fellow priests or their families after serving for several years in parishes where loneliness, misunderstanding, fatigue arising from their many responsibilities prompted them to rethink their choice. It said the men spent months and years wrestling with uncertainty and doubts before coming to the decision they had made a mistake by becoming priests and therefore decided to leave and form a family.

CNA added this: According to the Vatican, when the Pope entered the apartment he was met with “great enthusiasm” both on the part of the children, who gathered around his legs to give him a hug, as well as the parents.

The young men felt the Pope’s “closeness, and the affection of his presence.”

Francis listened attentively to each of their stories, paying particular attention to the development of the legal proceedings in each of the individual cases. When a man leaves the priesthood, he must undergo a process called “laicization,” in which his priestly faculties for administering the sacraments are removed.

The Pope conveyed to everyone his friendship and personal interest, the communique noted.

By visiting the young men and their families, Pope Francis “wanted to give a sign of mercy to those who live in a situation of spiritual and material hardship, highlighting the need that no one feel deprived of the love and solidarity of the pastors.”

 

HOLY FATHER TO VISIT ASSISI ON SEPTEMBER 20 – POPE FRANCIS INSPIRES CHEF TO SERVE 5 STAR MEALS TO RIO HOMELESS

I saw the great story by AP that you will read below and just had to share it with you. There have been a number of similar stories in recent years where we learn how Pope Francis has inspired others to perform some great works of charity and mercy.

HOLY FATHER TO VISIT ASSISI ON SEPTEMBER 20

(Vatican Radio)  The Holy See Press Office announced on Thursday that Pope Francis will return to the Italian town of Assisi on September 20th. His repeat visit to the birthplace of St. Francis takes place on the 30th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace, an annual event promoted by the St. Egidio Community. The Holy Father made a private pilgrimage to Assisi on August 4 to visit the Porziuncola chapel, marking the 800th anniversary of the “Pardon of Assisi.”

POPE FRANCIS INSPIRES CHEF TO SERVE 5 STAR MEALS TO RIO HOMELESS

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Twelve hours ago, Fagner Dos Santos ate his last meal: two hardened bread buns and coffee. For much of the past decade, the 33-year-old has been battling drug addiction while living on the streets of Rio. When he eats at all, it’s usually at a grungy soup kitchen or after picking through the trash.

Now he and some 70 other homeless men are feasting on a three-course meal courtesy of one of the world’s top chefs. On the menu: Ossobuco with buttery baroa potatoes topped off with a gelato dessert.

“Who would’ve thought food made for the cream of society would be served to a group of homeless men?” dos Santos said, gazing at the open, art-filled dining room and waiters in prim orange aprons that for a short while transported him away from his tough life.

The gastronomic destination is the brainchild of Italian master chef Massimo Bottura. Using leftover ingredients from Olympic caterers and other local partners, Bottura created a gourmet soup kitchen, RefettoRio Gastromotiva , that for a week now has been serving up meals to Rio’s homeless population. The name is a play on the Latin word reficere, meaning “to restore,” and a nod to the communal dining rooms known as refectories that are a mainstay of monasteries.

Chef Bottura – AP photo

CHEF MASSIMO BOTTURA

With questions swirling over the $12 billion price tag of South America’s first Olympics, Bottura wanted to make a statement about the games’ sustainability by taking on one symbol of Olympic waste: the more than 230 tons of food supplied daily to prepare 60,000 meals for athletes, coach and staff.

“This is a cultural project, not a charity,” said Bottura, who runs the Michelin three-star Osteria Francescana in Modena. “We want to rebuild the dignity of the people.”

Bottura said he was inspired by Pope Francis’ advocacy for the poor and modeled his project on a similar one he organized last year in an abandoned theater during the Milan world’s fair. His aim is to educate people about food waste in order to help feed the 800 million in the world who are hungry.

It’s a message that resonates in Rio.

Over the past year, as Brazil plunged into its deepest recession in decades, the city’s homeless population has struggled. In June, facing a financial calamity, Rio’s state government had to close or cutback service at 16 meal centers. The splurge on the Olympics has only heightened a sense of abandonment among the homeless, with many reporting being repeatedly removed by police from the city’s recently cleaned-up Lapa district, where Bottura’s restaurant is located.

In contrast to the government-run centers, where meals are served on prison-like food trays with throw-away cups, the Refettorio is an epicurean’s delight, complete with designer wood tables, oversized photos of the staff by French artist JR and a long mural of the Last Supper dripping in chocolate by Vik Muniz, one of Brazil’s top-selling artists.

At night the space, built of corrugated plastic on a run-down lot donated by the city, looks like a lit-up box.

For the Olympics launch, Bottura assembled a tour de force of local and international celebrity chefs. Once the games are over, the project will morph into a lunchtime restaurant, proceeds of which will fund evening meals for the homeless.

Beneficiaries are selected by groups like one that runs a shelter for transvestites who work as prostitutes on Lapa’s libertine streets. Working the kitchen are graduates of local partner Gastromotiva, a nonprofit cooking school that has turned hundreds of Brazilians from the country’s neglected favelas into cooks.

For many of the diners at RefettoRio, the food is unlike anything they’ve tasted before. But it’s the royal treatment they relish most.

“Just sitting here, treated with respect on an equal footing, makes me think I have a chance,” said Valdimir Faria, an educated man who found himself alone on Rio’s streets, in a downward alcoholic spiral, after his marriage and life in a city hours away fell apart.

As dinner service got underway Sunday, a disheveled man identifying himself only as Nilson removed a few radish slices from his eggplant panzanella salad and deposited them in a plastic bucket holding a squeegee kit.

“I thought it was paper,” he laughed, while trading a boisterous “grazie, grazie” with Bottura.

Sunday’s meal was prepared by chef Rafael Costa e Silva, who normally dishes up fixed-price meals for $150 a head at his swank Lasai bistro in Rio. While he makes a living catering to the rich, he said he’ll never forget the experience of serving the poor.

As dinner wound down, Costa e Silva emerged from the kitchen to thank his guests. It was Father’s Day in Brazil, and so for many of the men gathered who talked about life’s wrong turns and their estrangement from family, emotions ran high.

“What you’ve enjoyed is a simple meal but one made with lots of love and care,” Costa e Silva said before the dining hall broke into applause. He wiped a tear from his cheek and continued.

“We wanted you to feel spoiled — for at least one night

 

THE JESUIT “GIFT OF MERCY” DORMITORY FOR HOMELESS

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THE JESUIT “GIFT OF MERCY” DORMITORY FOR HOMELESS

(Vatican Radio) Just as winter begins to set in, Pope Francis and his Jesuit brothers have made sure there are extra beds in town for those who find themselves facing life out on the streets during the cold winter nights.

The new Rome dormitory for the homeless bears the name “Gift of Mercy,” because – as the Apostolic Almoner, Bishop Konrad Krajewski explains – it is a ‘gift’ from the Society of Jesus and ‘mercy’ is love’s second name. (Photo: ekai.pl)

ABP KONRAD KRAJEWSKI

The building, which previously hosted a travel agency, belongs to the Jesuit community.

Krajewsky says it’s the community’s way of responding to Pope Francis’ appeal to religious institutions to offer buildings to be placed in the service of the needy and those in difficulty.

Just round the corner from the Vatican, in Via dei Penitenzieri, the dormitory was restructured and furnished by the Papal Office of Charities through offerings collected by the faithful,  and  is run by nuns from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

Last week’s inauguration took place with the blessing of the locals and Holy Mass, celebrated by Bishop Krajewski and attended by the dorm’s first guests and by volunteers.

Krajewski explains that it can host up to 34 men a night that there are specific regulations in place to make sure the dormitory runs smoothly.

First of all the nuns interview, admit and register those seeking shelter who can stay for a maximum of 30 days; guests can arrive each day  between 6 and 7pm; then lights-out, rest and wake-up at 6.15am in time for personal hygiene, bed-making and tidying up. The dorm shuts at 8am for cleaning.

Also run by the Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity and financed by the Papal Office of Charities,  the “Gift of Mary” dormitory which has been offering shelter to homeless women since 1988.

With the addition of the “Gift of Mercy”, the Vatican is now in a position to offer a bed to a total of 84 people without a fixed abode.

POPE FRANCIS’ AGENDA: THURSDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2015 – FRANCIS IS 1ST POPE TO ADDRESS JOINT SESSION OF U. S. CONGRESS – MEETING WITH THE HOMELESS IN SAINT PATRICK’S CHURCH

Today is a day that will go down in both Church and U.S. history. Today is the day that Pope Francis became the first head of the Catholic Church to both visit and then address the U.S. Congress. Speaking English, the Holy Father addressed members of Congress and invited guests and, through the congressional leaders, the entire American people.

The following photos I took while watching Pope Francis speak – I have been unable to get EWTN for several days so watched on Fox News.

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In a speech interrupted 37 times by applause and several standing ovations, the Pope wove a beautiful tapestry about America, human dignity, human rights, protecting human life in all its stages, the common good, the need for justice, peace, cooperation, solidarity, the need for good, strong, just leaders, the need to rid the world of the arms trade, the important of just policies for welcoming immigrants and refugees, and the importance of the family in creating strong societies.

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The first standing ovation came after his opening sentence: “I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

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In his 3,400-word talk, the Holy Father focused on four people in American history their lives and their dreams: “Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God. Four representatives of the American people….”

“A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.”

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POPE FRANCIS’ AGENDA: THURSDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2015

9:20 Visit to the Congress of the United States of America  
11:15 Visit to the Charitable Center of St. Patrick Parish and meeting with the homeless in Washington, D.C.  
16:00 Departure by plane for New York  
17:00 Arrival at JFK Airport in New York  
18:45 Vespers with the Clergy, Men and Women Religious at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York  

This morning after celebrating mass in the apostolic nunciature in Washington, Pope Francis bade farewell to the staff of the nunciature.  He then traveled by car to the United States Capitol to address a special joint session of the United States Congress. Upon his arrival, Francis, the first Pope in history to address the U.S. Congress, was received by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, meeting privately with him in his office, but joined by officials from the Vatican and Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington. Shortly after 10:00, the Pope entered the House of Representatives and was introduced to the joint session by Speaker Boenher and U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden who is also President of the U. S. Senate, Joe Biden, The Pope was then led to the podium and delivered the following address to the assembly.

I urge you take the time to read this speech in its entirety – not in part. If you don’t read the whole, you will see a tapestry with holes in it, incomplete, imperfect.

After his talk at the U.S. Capitol, Pope Francis went to the church of St. Patrick where he had a warm, heartfelt, very personal meeting with 200 homeless people. That talk, in its entirety, follows the speech to Congress.

FRANCIS IS 1ST POPE TO ADDRESS JOINT SESSION OF U. S. CONGRESS

Mr. Vice-President,

Mr. Speaker,

Honorable Members of Congress,

Dear Friends,

I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”.  I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation.  You are the face of its people, their representatives.  You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.  A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people.  To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses.  On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation.  On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being.  Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families.  These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society.  They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights.  I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land.  I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults.  I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.

My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans.  The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future.  They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people.  A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity.   These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality.  In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.

I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”.  Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.

All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today.  Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion.  We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.  This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind.  A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms.  But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners.  The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps.  We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within.  To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.  That is something which you, as a people, reject.

Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice.  We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises.  Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent.  Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples.  We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States.  The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.

In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society.  It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society.  Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people.  All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776).  If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance.  Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.  I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans.  That dream continues to inspire us all.  I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”.  Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment.  Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.

In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land o pursue their dream of building a future in freedom.  We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.  I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.  Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected.  For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation.  Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.  Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past.  We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.  Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best.  I am confident that we can do this.

Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.  This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions.  On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities.  Is this not what we want for our own children?  We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.  To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.  We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome.  Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction.  Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.  Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.  Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.  In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.  The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.  The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.  I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.  Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty.  Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement.  Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world!  How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty!  I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost.  At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty.  They too need to be given hope.  The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes.  I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth.  The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable.  “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world.  It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129).  This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3).  “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).

In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.  I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play.  Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139).  “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112).  In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton.  He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people.  In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world.  Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born.  That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”.  Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church.  He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.

From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past.  It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same.  When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all.  This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility.  A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism.  A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world.  Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?  Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.  In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

Four representatives of the American people.

I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families.  It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme.  How essential the family has been to the building of this country!  And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement!  Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without.  Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.  I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young.  For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair.  Their problems are our problems.  We cannot avoid them.  We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions.  At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future.  Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people.  It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

MEETING WITH THE HOMELESS IN SAINT PATRICK’S CHURCH

Dear Friends,

The first word I wish to say to you is “Thank you”.  Thank you for welcoming me and for your efforts to make this meeting possible. Here I think of a person whom I love, someone who is, and has been, very important throughout my life.  He has been a support and an inspiration.  He is the one I go to whenever I am “in a fix”.  You make me think of Saint Joseph.  Your faces remind me of his.

POPE-HOMELESS

Joseph had to face some difficult situations in his life.  One of them was the time when Mary was about to give birth, to have Jesus.  The Bible tells us that, “while they were [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to deliver her child.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk 2:6-7).

The Bible is very clear about this: there was no room for them.  I can imagine Joseph, with his wife about to have a child, with no shelter, no home, no place to stay.  The Son of God came into this world as a homeless person.  The Son of God knew what it was to start life without a roof over his head.  We can imagine what Joseph must have been thinking.  How is it that the Son of God has no home?  Why are we homeless, why don’t we have housing?  These are questions that many of you may ask daily.  Like Saint Joseph, you may ask: Why are we homeless, without a place to live?  These are questions which all of us might well ask.  Why do these, our brothers and sisters, have no place to live?  Why are these brothers and sisters of ours homeless?

Joseph’s questions are timely even today; they accompany all those who throughout history have been, and are, homeless.

Joseph was someone who asked questions.  But first and foremost, he was a man of faith.  Faith gave Joseph the power to find light just at the moment when everything seemed dark.  Faith sustained him amid the troubles of life.  Thanks to faith, Joseph was able to press forward when everything seemed to be holding him back.

In the face of unjust and painful situations, faith brings us the light which scatters the darkness.  As it did for Joseph, faith makes us open to the quiet presence of God at every moment of our lives, in every person and in every situation.  God is present in every one of you, in each one of us.

We can find no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing.  There are many unjust situations, but we know that God is suffering with us, experiencing them at our side.  He does not abandon us.

We know that Jesus wanted to show solidarity with every person.  He wanted everyone to experience his companionship, his help, his love.  He identified with all those who suffer, who weep, who suffer any kind of injustice.  He tells us this clearly: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35).

Faith makes us know that God is at our side, that God is in our midst and his presence spurs us to charity.  Charity is born of the call of a God who continues to knock on our door, the door of all people, to invite us to love, to compassion, to service of one another.

Jesus keeps knocking on our doors, the doors of our lives.  He doesn’t do this by magic, with special effects, with flashing lights and fireworks.  Jesus keeps knocking on our door in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the faces of our neighbors, in the faces of those at our side.

Dear friends, one of the most effective ways we have to help is that of prayer.  Prayer unites us; it makes us brothers and sisters.  It opens our hearts and reminds us of a beautiful truth which we sometimes forget.  In prayer, we all learn to say “Father”, “Dad”.  We learn to see one another as brothers and sisters.  In prayer, there are no rich and poor people, there are sons and daughters, sisters and brothers.  In prayer, there is no first or second class, there is brotherhood.

It is in prayer that our hearts find the strength not to be cold and insensitive in the face of injustice.  In prayer, God keeps calling us, opening our hearts to charity. How good it is for us to pray together.  How good it is to encounter one another in this place where we see one another as brothers and sisters, where we realize that we need one another.  Today I want to be one with you.  I need your support, your closeness.  I would like to invite you to pray together, for one another, with one another.  That way we can keep helping one another to experience the joy of knowing that Jesus is in our midst.  Are you ready?

Our Father, who art in heaven…

Before leaving you, I would like to give you God’s blessing:

 

POPE FRANCIS PAYS FOR TRIP TO TURIN FOR 50 HOMELESS

POPE FRANCIS PAYS FOR TRIP TO TURIN FOR 50 HOMELESS

Pope Francis has paid for 50 homeless people to make a bus trip from Rome to Turin to see the celebrated Shroud of Turin. They arrive this evening, June 3, and will be welcomed by the Maria Adelaide and Cottolengo hospitals. The homeless frequent the soup kitchen run by the Santa Lucia parish in Rome and were accompanied on their trip by the pastor, Fr. Antonio Nicolai and assistant pastor, Fr. Pablo Castiglia.

The generous offer was made through the good offices of the papal almoner, Polish Archbishop Konrad Krajewski who also gave each of the pilgrims some spending money, calling it “a caress from the Pope.”

The travelers will be welcomed in Turin by Fr. Arco Brunetti, director of the diocesan health pastoral ministry, and by Sisters Giuseppina Fornoni and Gabriella Denti, responsible for two of the structures for pilgrims that were prepared for the period of the exposition of the Shroud, as well as volunteers.

Tomorrow Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin will accompany 40 homeless from the city to see the Shroud. This was arranged by the diocesan ministry for the homeless and the diocesan Caritas.