“Sadly, many people, even here, are literally homeless. Many of our more vulnerable sisters and brothers — living alone, struggling with various physical and mental disabilities, devastated by the poison of drugs, released from prison or abandoned because they are elderly — are experiencing severe material, cultural, and spiritual poverty; they have no roof over their heads and no home in which to live,” the pope lamented.
The deacon had explained how it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit that led him and his wife to begin their ministry, and the pope praised them for this.
Francis said he was “moved to hear that, together with their material needs, you are attentive to their personal stories and their wounded dignity, caring for them in their loneliness and their struggle to feel loved and welcomed in the world. [The deacon’s wife] Anna told us that, ‘Jesus, the living Word, heals their hearts and relationships, because people are rebuilt from within’; once they realize that in God’s eyes they are beloved and blessed, they are reborn.”
“This,” the pope said, “is a lesson for the whole Church: It is not enough to provide bread to fill stomachs; we need to fill people’s hearts!”
Charity, he said, is “much more than material and social assistance. It has to do with the whole person; it strives to put people back on their feet with the love of Jesus: a love that helps them to recover their beauty and their dignity.”
The pope concluded by reiterating his call to speak, like St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the “language of charity.”
“My hope and prayer, then, is that you will always spread the fragrance of charity in the Church and in your country,” he said.
Earlier Saturday, Pope Francis met privately with children cared for at Blessed László Batthyány-Strattmann Institute in Budapest. On Saturday afternoon he was scheduled to travel to a sports arena in the city for a meeting with young people.