Once again demonstrating his message to care for our disadvantaged and overlooked neighbors, Pope Francis commissioned a medical center for the homeless in Rome. The center is located by the Colonnade in St. Peter’s Square, next to the barbershop and shower stalls which Pope Francis also established. These facilities supply the poor with free meals, showers, haircuts, and a change of clothes, all offered once a week. Lucia Ercoli, director of the Association, expressed her gratitude in a statement: “We’re grateful to Pope Francis for wanting to once again give a concrete sign of mercy in St. Peter’s Square to the homeless or distressed.”
The medical clinic will be open on Mondays, the same day the homeless men and women use the shower stalls. It will provide Rome’s homeless men and women with healthcare they would otherwise be unable to afford. Doctors from the Italian Association of Solidarity Medicine, the Health Care Fund, and a local hospital will staff the medical center. Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the Vatican’s almoner in charge of the distributing of money to the poor, helped spearhead the project. He spoke to the Italian publication La Repubblica about the new center, saying, “We are equipped to help all those who come knocking on our door. It is Pope Francis who wants this and those of us who are close to him in this venture are honored and highly motivated to make this possible.”
This isn’t the first time the Pope has reached out to Rome’s homeless population. In October 2015, he visited the Vatican’s new residence for homeless men, “The Gift of Mercy” house, which was set up by the Jesuits and is run by the Missionaries of Charity. Pope Francis has spoken extensively about caring for the overlooked and downtrodden. In one of his sermons, he counsels, “To touch the living God, we do not need to attend a ‘refresher course’ but to enter into the wounds of Jesus, and to do so, all we need to do is go out onto the street.” In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis’ charitable initiatives serve as important reminders about the significance of ministering not just to our neighbor’s souls but to the entire human person.