Shortly after delivering his celebrated address to Congress last Thursday, Pope Francis declined an invite to stay on Capitol Hill for lunch with Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and other Washington elites. Instead, the pontiff chose to spend his time with the people he felt most needed him: The poor and homeless.
After receiving a standing ovation from members of the Supreme Court, Congress, and a plethora of other high-ranking government officials, Francis ducked out and slunk his own holiness down to the nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral. There he addressed roughly 250 volunteers and staff before joining a group of about 300 homeless people for a pious lunch at St. Maria’s Meals, a local soup kitchen ran by Catholic Charities. Francis reminded the people that Jesus came into this world a homeless man, adding “He knew what it was to start a life without a roof over his head … How is it the Son of God has no home?” he asked.
He was subsequently mobbed by enthusiastic supporters during his impromptu speech. The food program, feeding 300-500 homeless and poverty-stricken people per week, began three years ago. Catholic Charities runs and operates the six shelters throughout the Washington, DC. The program survives on donations and a grants from Catholic Charities.
Washington has been fighting a homeless crisis for nearly two decades, only recently seeing a minor dip in the homeless population after launching new efforts to eradicate poverty. Francis hoped his appearance would help get the word out about homeless programs throughout the world. The Pope’s appearance is part of Francis’ long-standing fight against poverty.
In addition to speaking out on behalf of the poor since his days in South America, prior to becoming pope, he has also made regular headlines for his personal attempts to help the insolvent. “We can find no moral justification… for lack of housing,” he said adding, “God is suffering with us.”
Prior to becoming the church’s latest pontiff, Francis regularly walked the streets of South America and often rode his bike to conduct mass. He celebrated his birthday last year by giving away sleeping bags to the homeless, andPope Francis reportedly sneaks out of the Vatican regularly to preach to those living on the streets.
Francis also announced last November of plans to install free showers in St. Peter’s square so people who go without have a place to bathe. Pope Francis is the Catholic Church’s first Jesuit to take the institution’s top seat and if I do say so myself he’s outdoing himself as the holiest of holies. Keep it up Francis, you’re making the Catholic Church look better than it has in decades.