Pope asks for warm hearts to help homeless deal with the cold

IMAGE: CNS/Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Looking out over St. Peter’s Square where
icicles hung from usually bubbling fountains, Pope Francis prayed for the

The freeze in Rome, subzero temperatures in large parts of
Europe and heavy snowfalls in many areas in early January forced the closure of
roads and schools and were blamed for at least a dozen deaths.

“In these very cold days, I think and I invite you to
think of the people who live on the streets, struck by the cold and, many
times, by indifference,” Pope Francis told people in St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 8.

“Unfortunately, some have not survived,” the pope
told people who had bundled up against the midday chill to recite the Angelus prayer
with him. “Let us pray for them and ask the Lord to warm our hearts so
that we can help them.”

Because of the cold weather, the papal charities office
instituted a 24-hour open-door policy at the shelters it runs with the
Missionaries of Charity for homeless men and homeless women. Usually the
shelters open in the evening and close in the morning.

Archbishop Konrad
Krajewski, the papal almoner and point man for Pope Francis’ aid to the homeless
around the Vatican, was unavailable for comment Jan. 9. However, Italian media
reported that he left a van and another automobile from his office unlocked and
parked outside the Vatican over the weekend so the homeless could take turns
using it for shelter.

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