Pope Francis had lunch with around 1,300 poor from Rome on Sunday.
The meal was part of several Vatican-sponsored initiatives marking the sixth annual World Day of the Poor, including a free mobile medical clinic in St. Peter’s Square.
After two years off due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the free lunch was again offered in the Paul VI Hall for people in Rome living in poverty.
Pope Francis has always joined the meal — which began in 2017 during the first World Day of the Poor; he spends time in conversation with those at his table and he greets others who approach him.
Throughout his pontificate, Francis has placed a strong emphasis on concrete outreach to those in need.
He has spoken often about those at the margins of society and condemned what he has called a “throwaway culture” that neglects people it finds inconvenient or a burden.
At Mass on Nov. 13, the pope said: “We should always repeat this to ourselves, especially at times of greatest trouble: God is a Father, and he is at my side. He knows and loves me; he does not sleep, but watches over me and cares for me. If I stay close to him, not a hair of my head will perish.”
“And how do I respond to this?” he added. “By looking at our brothers and sisters in need; by looking at the throwaway culture that discards the poor and people with few possibilities; a culture that discards the old and unborn … by looking at all of them; as a Christian, what should I do in this moment?”
Pope Francis has also shared meals with the poor during visits to Assisi and Bologna, Italy.
After the canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta on Sept. 4, 2016, the pope offered a pizza lunch to 1,500 poor cared for by the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa’s order.