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Pope Francis meets with Rome's homeless: 'Some want to get rid of the word solidarity'

2014-06-16

Pope Francis visited the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere to meet with people in need that receive help from the Community of St. Egidio.

Even with the rain and bad weather, the Pope walked the colorful neighborhood on foot, greeting thousands of people lined up along the picturesque streets.

After entering the Basilica, the first thing the Pope did was place flowers and pray before the icon of Our Lady of Clemency.

Afterward, Pope Francis listened to the testimonies from several people benefiting from the Community's programs.

Adriana, a disabled woman, and Dawood Yousefi, a Muslim refugee, explained how St. Egidio members took them in.

ADRIANA
"In the Gospel, Jesus heals many sick people. I also endure many hardships, like others, both physical and psychological. But this year, I understood that the gravest sickness is solitude. But Jesus has healed me.”

DAWOOD YOUSEFI
"I remember the path in the mountains between Iran and Turkey, where I spent two weeks. I saw, on the side of the trails, the skeletons of other refugees. I was scared of dying because I was so cold.”

Pope Francis lashed out against a "speculative economy” which makes the poor even poorer. He also asked that solidarity never disappears.

POPE FRANCIS
"This word, 'solidarity,' so many people want to erase it from the dictionary, because to a certain group it seems like a bad word. No! It is a Christian word, solidarity. That's why you are family to the homeless, friends to people with disabilities, and you show so much humanity.”

During his speech, Pope Francis spoke again about the "throwaway culture,” which tosses aside youth and the elderly. He said that it's clearly happening in a Europe that has lost sight of its roots.

POPE FRANCIS
"Today, I speak of Europe. Europe is tired. We need to help her and rejuvenate her, to help her find her roots. It's true: she has renounced her roots. It's true. But we need to help her find them.”

The Pope thanked the work of Community of St. Egidio, "for helping friendship grow, instead of ghosts of hostility and indifference.”

The Community of St. Egidio was founded in the 1960's to help the poorest people in Rome. They also work to promote ecumenism and peace around the world.



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