View From Rome
12 January 2017
View from Rome
Rome is frozen. Walk past the fountains in Piazza della Repubblica or Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Fontana del Tritone and you will see that lines of ice now fill the channels where water normally flows, giving the statues a dramatic, stuck-in-time effect. However, the Eternal City’s homeless risk their lives and their health by sleeping rough in the sub-zero temperatures. And this is something that Pope Francis has decided to do something about.
“In these very cold days, I invite you to think of the people who live on the streets, struck by the cold and, many times, by indifference,” he told a crowd of shivering pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Basilica on Sunday.
The Pope has ordered his homeless shelters – which normally close in the evening – to be open overnight, along with the distribution of thermal sleeping bags and gloves. At the same time Vatican vehicles have been left open for the homeless to sleep in, with one of them left outside the office of Archbishop Konrad Krajewski. He holds the title of Papal Almoner and is Francis’ point man for this work. After being appointed to his post, the Pope told him: “You can sell your desk. You don’t need it. You need to get out of the Vatican.”
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