Vatican's “Robin Hood” cardinal divides opinion in Italy

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Konrad Krajweski is the Almoner of the Office of Papal Charities. He is in charge of helping the poor on behalf of the pope.

Recently, in opposition to state authorities, he helped return electricity to more than 400 homeless people in the eternal city. The cardinal now may have to go to court or rather pay a hefty fine.

The 400 people in question have been illegally occupying a building and refusing to pay their bills. When the debt was more than €300,000, the electricity company decided to cut off the power supply. After six days without power the occupants asked the cardinal for help and since almost a hundred children and sick people were living there, he decided to break the seal and manually turn on the power supply. 

This move has sharply divided public opinion. Some, like the Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, is asking the cardinal himself to pay the bill. He says state laws are there to be obeyed not broken. On the other hand, his defenders argue it is an injustice for families who cannot afford to pay for basic resources.

This case does not appear to have any easy solution as it represents the clash of two opposing views. However, the cardinal has already announced that he will pay the bills from now on. He is also willing to bear all the full legal consequences for his actions. The cardinal justified his decision by saying he could not bear to see minors in such terrible living conditions.

The Vatican has expressed its opinion on what happened through its Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. At an event in Milan he explained what Krajweski did was to highlight a real problem which affects vulnerable people. He encouraged everyone to get involved and look for solutions together.

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