Pope’s Office Says to Search Out the Poor, Help Them
I think I may have given my mom a little too much false hope over the weekend when I bought Flannery O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal and read a bunch of a Talking Points Memo article about the Pope out loud around the breakfast table.
Nevertheless, this article about the revived role of the Vatican Almoner is kind of the best (and the book is short but fascinating if you love Flannery O’Connor!).
The Vatican Almoner, if you aren’t familiar (and…who is?), is a role that originated in the 13th Century, one that traditionally involves giving “one-on-one doses of emergency assistance to the poor, sick and aged.” Until recently the job was more of a formality given to pre-retirement diplomats, but Pope Francis has ramped up the position and hired the young-ish, trusted Archbishop Konrad Krajewski as his one-man almsgiver:
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.
He 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 floor.
“This is the concept: Be with people and share their lives, even for 15, 30 minutes, an hour,” Krajewski said.
Last year the office of the almoner spent £1 million on acts of charity (6,500 requests for help), but this years numbers are expected to double. Apparently the whole affair is funded by selling Papal blessings — £8-30 plus S+H — for use at things like weddings, baptisms, and confirmations.