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Rome Reports

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August 2016: Pope eats lunch with refugees and visits women rescued from prostitution

The pope began the month of August with a quick visit to Assisi, in which he celebrated 800 years of "The Pardon of Assisi." It is the possibility to receive a plenary indulgence during the first two days of August, the same indulgence St. Francis himself obtained and the same indulgence as those who go to the Holy Land. ; The pope prayed in the Porziuncola, the church St. Francis rebuilt with his own hands, the place where he founded his Order and the place where he died. ; Then the pope delivered an intense homily about the profound meaning of God's forgiveness. ; POPE FRANCIS "The world needs forgiveness; too many people are caught up in resentment and harbor hatred, because they are incapable of forgiving. They ruin their own lives and the lives of those around them rather than finding the joy of serenity and peace." Again, he asked people to confess to a priest, so God can forgives their sins for what they are. To make it even more clear, he went off schedule and began hearing pilgrims' confessions. ; In August, the pope performed two important gestures of mercy. First, he invited 21 Syrian refugees to his home and they gave him a moving collection of children's drawings about the drama they have already experienced in their lives. "It is the drama of war." Secondly, he visited a house from the Pope John XXIII Community where 20 women who were released from the slavery of prostitution live. ; For over an hour they spoke to him about how others took advantage of them, violated them and continued to threaten them. "Today I apologize to all of you. For all Christians, Catholics, that abused you and also forgive me for not having prayed enough for you and for this slavery." During the middle of the night, on August 24, a strong earthquake shook central Italy and caused around 300 deaths and irreparable damage in several cities. ; The pope, who had planned a catechesis that day, replaced it with an intense rosary. ; At the end of the month, he was visited by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who came accompanied by his wife. "The book is about connecting people all over the world and how most people in the world don't have internet access." The pope liked the idea of building a culture of encounter that transmits hope to the most disadvantaged. Therefore, before he said goodbye, he asked Zuckerberg and his wife for something that perhaps no one had asked of them before. "Please pray for me." ; JMB/MB RR S - PR Up:JD