Vatican City, May 22, 2013 / 11:04 am
Pope Francis thanked the Missionaries of Charity for their work and described one of their houses located inside the Vatican “a beautiful reality” and “a school of charity.”
“I thank all those who in various ways support this beautiful reality of the Vatican,” said Pope Francis during a May 21 evening visit to celebrate the residence’s 25th anniversary.
“This house is a place that teaches charity, a school of charity, that teaches us to go out to every person, not for profit, but out of love,” he stated at the Gift of Mary House.
He noted that “at the border between the Vatican and Italy, it is a powerful reminder to all of us, to the Church, to the city of Rome, to always be more of a family, a home in which we are open to welcome, to attention, and to fraternity.”
Blessed John Paul II placed the house under the care of the sisters on May 21, 1998.
“How many people have you fed in these years, how many wounded, above all wounded spiritually, have you cared for!” he emphasized.
“My presence here tonight is to give first of all my heartfelt thanks to the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, working here for 25 years, with many volunteers, in favor of so many people in need of help, thank you!” he told them.
Around 25 homeless women are allowed to live in the residence, and the sisters feed around 60 people each day at the house.
“A home represents the most precious human wealth, that of encounter, that of the relationships between persons of different ages, cultures, and histories who live together and who, together, help one another to grow, and that is what this house has sought to be for 25 years,” said Pope Francis.
Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household, and Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, the Pope’s personal secretary, accompanied the pontiff on his 5:30 p.m. visit.
The meeting was held in the courtyard located between the Gift of Mary House, the Palace of the Holy Office and the Atrium of the Paul VI Hall.
Cardinal Angelo Comastri and the Mother General of the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Mary Prema Pierick, welcomed Pope Francis.
The sisters then placed a garland of flowers around the Pope’s neck, following Indian tradition.
Over 100 people were also at the house, including its patrons, employees, friends and guests as well as Missionaries of Charity from other different communities around Rome.
The Pope described the homeless women living at the house as its “gift” and “a gift to the Church.”
“You tell us that loving God and our neighbor is not something abstract but profoundly concrete,” he stated.
“It means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to serve and serving him concretely,” he added.
According to the Pope, people everywhere must recover the entire sense of gift, gratuity and solidarity.
“A savage capitalism has taught the logic of profit at any cost, give in order to get, exploitation without looking at persons, and we see the results in the crisis we are living through!” said the pontiff.
Pope Francis noted that another feature of the house is that it is “qualified as a gift of Mary” and she is an example of living charity towards our neighbor, “not out of social duty, but starting from God's love.”