Practising What You Preach (Or At Least Starting To)

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Pool photo via AP/L'Osservatore Romano

Following Pope Francis' admonition that "poverty calls us to sow hope," the Vatican has opened its own homeless shelter near St. Peter's Square, and Francis turned up on one of its first nights to greet and bless each resident, who greeted him "with joy." Designed to house 34 men in dormitory style for up to a month, the new "Gift of Mercy" joins an existing shelter for 50 women administered by nuns from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. The new shelter will be run by Jesuits , a historically progressive order that includes Francis himself.

The project is part of Francis' declared concern for the poor and his persistent blasting of economic inequities. He's taken other modest steps to address the plight of Rome's estimated 3,276 homeless people: He's given out sleeping bags, regularly visited the homeless, announced plans to install showers and offer them free shaves and haircuts, and dared to ask in his first papal exhortation, "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” Of course, you could also fairly ask, "How can it be that the world's largest financial power continues to be worth untold billions in property, gold and art , but they can only come up with some lousy showers and dorm cots? Small steps. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  "Rejoice always...give thanks in all circumstances."

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