Nuns and volunteers prepare food to distribute to the poor Nuns and volunteers prepare food to distribute to the poor 

Papal Almoner: Vatican services for the poor continue despite coronavirus

The Vatican continues to offer shower facilities, sleeping quarters, and food assistance to the poor and homeless who often sleep rough around St. Peter’s Square.

By Devin Watkins

“Don’t ignore the poor Lazarus who knocks at your door.”

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski launched this appeal to those who encounter a homeless person.

The Almoner of the Office of Papal Charities said the Vatican continues to heed the cry of the poor despite the coronavirus outbreak.

“Though we maintain a safe physical distance, put on gloves, and avoid assemblies, we can still help those who are right beside us,” he said.

Critical moment of need

Cardinal Krajewski said this is a critical moment to help the poor.

In more normal times, homeless people can use the restrooms of cafes and restaurants, but now most are closed. “So we need to keep our shower facilities and restrooms open.”

The same goes for food assistance, he said. With restaurants closed, a charitable person is unable to offer someone a croissant or a cappuccino so they need somewhere to find food.

Helping those near the Vatican

The Papal Almoner said his office is continuing to offer the same services as before.

“Our volunteers keep the same schedules, we are still distributing food at Rome’s train stations, and the shower facilities under the Colonnade around St. Peter’s Square are open. We even give out sandwiches and water there.”

Cardinal Krajewski said the Missionaries of Charity at the Gift of Mary House are handing out around 120 sack dinners every evening.

He added that the newly-opened “Palace for the Poor” still offers a warm bed and breakfast for those who come calling.

Knock fearlessly on church doors

The Cardinal had one more word of advice for the poor in Rome and throughout the world who find themselves in need and without a place to go in these difficult times of social isolation.

“I invite the poor to knock fearlessly on the door of parishes and churches,” Cardinal Krajewski said, “because the Christian spirit teaches us that we must open to those who knock.”

16 March 2020, 15:08