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Pope celebrates 50 years of Sant'Egidio with the poor, elderly and children

It was Sunday afternoon... But the pope never seems to rest. Pope Francis traveled to Trastevere to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sant'Egidio community with children, the poor and the elderly.

This Catholic movement helps care for homeless people, refugees and the elderly. Some took the opportunity to speak to the pope.

Hundreds of people waited inside the basilica.

The pope listened to their stories. This young man from Syria told him how he fled from Daesh with his mother and brothers.

"We had to escape and flee to Lebanon, where there were some of my mother's relatives. I was 10 years old and we were in a camp for three years. In 2016, we knew we had the possibility to go to Italy, thanks to the humanitarian corridors. Now my brothers and I are going to school. I've made new friends."

"As you said, old age sometimes looks like a disease that you have to push away as far as you can. I realized this when I retired. But now I thank you, Holy Father, for reminding us elders that we have a mission within the Church."

In his speech, the pope asked society to put aside their fears and act like the "good Samaritan," helping foreigners without prejudice.

"Prayer, the poor and peace: this is the talent of the Community, which has matured throughout its 50 years. If we are alone, we are easily caught up in fear. But your path guides you to look to the future together: not alone, not for yourselves. Together with the Church."

Pope Francis asked them not to consider the anniversary as only a summary of results or gains, but also a moment to concretely think about how each one can contribute to society.

"The Samaritan in the parable was concerned with the man who was half-dead in the street, because 'he saw and took pity on him.' The Samaritan did not have a specific responsibility for the injured person, who was a foreigner. However, he behaved like a brother, because he looked upon him with mercy. A Christian, through his vocation, is a sibling to every person, especially the poor. And even if he is an enemy, never say, 'Why do I have to help?'"

The pope expressed his appreciation for each person in Sant'Egidio and the work they each carry out. He invited them to continue helping the needy, especially the poor, because he added, "they are a treasure that must be cared for."