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Pope Francis sends young almoner to do charity in the streets, and possibly sneaks out himself!
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Pope Francis has made changes to the Vatican's charity office, to facilitate work done for the poor. A younger almoner and more ardent efforts to meet with and help those on the street are among the changes.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Archbishop Konrad Krajewski is the Vatican almoner, a post that dates back to the medieval period in the Church. As al almoner, his job is to go where Pope Francis can't and distribute alms to the poor and needy.
Accompanied by off-duty Swiss Papal guards, the Archbishop visits the train stations which serve as nighttime soup kitchens for the poor. There they distribute small sums of money, talk to people, and occasionally pray with them.
Archbishop Krajewski told the Associated Press, "And when we say we're from the Vatican, and that we're doing this in the name of the Holy Father, their hearts open up more."
Pope Francis is already legendary for his outreach to the poor, sick, and disenfranchised. It is less known that even as archbishop in Buenos Aries, the cardinal would sneak out to the slums where he would eat with the poor on the streets-an effort to show others at the fringe of society that someone cared.
No matter what people think of Pope Francis, his dedication to these people is unquestionable. His choice of almoner is another sign of that. Typically, almoners were older members of the clergy, usually someone close to retirement. But Archbishop Krajewski is 50, much younger and filled with life and above all, energy. Although Pope Francis cannot go out, the young archbishop does, making rounds often assigned by the Holy Father himself.
According to Archbishop Krajewski, the Pope will receive stacks of letters each day from people asking for prayers or other help. The Pope then marks letters with simple instructions. "Talk to them" or "Find them." Archbishop Krajewski does so and will spend his time visiting with the people, or giving them something to meet their immediate needs.
The archbishop described his work as "first aid" for the poor. Money for shoes, or to replace funds taken from a stolen wallet.
More important, the Archbishop told the press what it really takes to be an almoner, a position we are all called to fill. "Being an almoner, it has to cost me something so that it can change me. being an almoner has to cost you. Two euros is nothing for you. Take this poor person, bring him to your big apartment that has three bathrooms, let him take a shower - and your bathroom will stink for three days - and while he's showering make him a coffee and serve it to him, and maybe give him your sweater. This is being an almoner."
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The Archbishop's work is funded by charitable giving from others and from the sale of Papal Parchments, handwritten certificates featuring a picture of the pope.
As Pope Francis finds himself confined to the Vatican with official duties, it should come as no surprise to see him appoint able representatives to replace him in the field. Ideally, the Pope would like to see his work multiplied throughout the Church.
Interestingly, as the Associated Press reported, when Archbishop Krajewski was asked if the Pope had ever snuck out of the Vatican on his own, he simply replied, "next question!"
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