When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was known to sneak out at night and break bread with the homeless, sit with them literally on the street and eat with them, as part of his aim to share the plight of the poor and let them know someone cared.
That’s not so easy
to do now that he’s pope.
But Francis is still providing one-on-one
doses of emergency assistance to the poor, sick and aged through a
trusted archbishop. Konrad Krajewski is the Vatican Almoner, a
centuries-old job of handing out alms — and Francis has ramped up the
job to make it a hands-on extension of his own personal charity.
Americans gathered for Thanksgiving on Thursday, Krajewski described
how Francis has redefined the little known office of papal almoner and
explained the true meaning of giving during a chat with journalists over
coffee and pastries a few steps from the Vatican gates.
Holy Father told me at the beginning: ‘You can sell your desk. You don’t
need it. You need to get out of the Vatican. Don’t wait for people to
come ringing. You need to go out and look for the poor,’” Krajewski
Krajewski gets his marching orders each morning: A Vatican
gendarme goes from the Vatican hotel where Francis lives to Krajewski’s
office across the Vatican gardens, bringing a bundle of letters that the
pope has received from the faithful asking for help. On the top of each
letter, Francis might write “You know what to do” or “Go find them” or
“Go talk to them.”
And so Don Corrado, as he likes to be called, hits the streets of Rome and beyond.
visits homes for the elderly in the name of the pope, writes checks to
the needy in the name of the pope — even traveled to the island of
Lampedusa in the name of the pope after a migrant boat capsized last
month, killing more than 350 people.
Over four days on Lampedusa,
Krajewski bought 1,600 phone cards so the survivors could call loved
ones back home in Eritrea to let them know they had made it. He also
prayed with police divers as they worked to raise the dead from the sea