Pope visits the homeless in DC
By Inés San Martín
After delivering a historic speech at a joint meeting of Congress in English, Pope Francis went back to his native Spanish to address those with whom he feels more comfortable: the poor. Meeting a group of homeless people, he told them, “Jesus was homeless, too.”
“The Son of God came into this world as a homeless person,” the pontiff said at St. Patrick in the City church in Washington, DC. “The Son of God knew what it was to start life without a roof over his head.”
Francis delivered his remarks in Spanish, with the live translation of Monsignor Mark Miles, an official of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State who interprets for the pontiff when he’s addressing English speakers.
“Good day,” the pope began in Spanish. “You’re going to hear two statements, one in Spanish and one in English.”
“You may ask: Why are we homeless, without a place to live?” Francis told the crowd of 200 that packed the church. “These are questions which all of us might well ask. Why do these, our brothers and sisters, have no place to live? Why are these brothers and sisters of ours homeless?”
True to form, Francis shied away from a lunch on Capitol Hill in favor of blessing the meal being served to homeless men and women at Catholic Charities. The menu? Teriyaki chicken, pasta salad, green beans, and carrots.
The pontiff said there’s no social or moral justification for a lack of housing, but he also had words of hope for those who suffer injustice: “We know that God is suffering with us, experiencing them at our side. He does not abandon us.”
Addressing those who work with the Church in its mission to bring not only spiritual but also material aid to those in need, the pontiff said that “charity is born of the call of a God who continues to knock on our door, the door of all people, to invite us to love, to compassion, to service of one another.”
In a deeply pastoral address after his 50 minutes in Congress, Francis said that Jesus continues to knock on the doors of the faithful. “He doesn’t do this by magic, with special effects, with flashing lights and fireworks,” he said. “Jesus keeps knocking on our door in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the faces of our neighbors, in the faces of those at our side.”
He also said that in prayer, there are no rich or poor, but only brothers and sisters. So at the end of his remarks, he invited those gathered to share a moment of prayer, with many reciting the Our Father with the pope in Spanish.