Pope Francis Visits Homeless in D.C.


Courtesy of NPR and news reports


Pope Francis, fresh from a historic speech before a joint meeting of Congress, had lunch with homeless and low-income people at Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 24 during his visit to the U.S.


The pope arrived and waded through the crowd, raising his hands and wishing those assembled: “Buon appetito!”


Some 300 people were invited to eat with the pontiff. On the menu was boneless chicken teriyaki, Asian pasta salad, steamed carrots/green beans, potato roll and brownie/blondie for dessert.


Ramona Service of Washington was quoted by The Associated Press as saying that Francis spoke “from the heart,” calling him “a very giving, sensible pope.”


Earlier, the pope spoke at the adjoining St. Patrick in the City, saying there is “no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing.”


He spoke of the problem of homelessness and hunger, saying: “We know that Jesus wanted to show solidarity with every person. He wanted everyone to experience his companionship, his help and his love. He identified with everyone who suffered.”


Quoting Jesus’ words from the book of Matthew, the pope said: “I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you helped me.”


Jesus’ love “spurs us to compassion and service to one another,” he said.


As the pope addressed Congress earlier that day, he spoke of climate change, poverty, and challenged lawmakers to be more accepting of immigrants seeking to come to America.


The pope also cited the legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other great American icons, including Abraham Lincoln.


“A nation can be considered great,” Francis said, “when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to dream of full rights for all their brothers and sisters as Martin Luther King sought to do, when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.”


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