Pope Francis visits a local charity in Rome with a message of solidarity

cq5dam 1575043053 Pope Francis at the Caritas Citadel of Charity in Rome. | Vatican Media.

In a visit to Rome's Caritas center Friday, Pope Francis emphasized the shared experience of vulnerability among Christ and the poor.

"Vulnerability unites us all. We are all vulnerable," Pope Francis said Nov. 29 in St. Jacinta Hospitality House, a temporary home for the elderly and homeless.

"God also wanted to make himself vulnerable with us. He is one of us and he suffered: not having a home where he was born, he suffered persecution, escaping to another country, a migrant, he suffered poverty. God became vulnerable. And because of this we can talk with Jesus, he is one of us," he said.

Pope Francis said that being close to the poor reminds one of their own wounds and vulnerability.

"This is beautiful because it means that we also need salvation," he said. "This is a grace that the poor give us."

The pope visited Caritas' "Citadel of Charity" to mark the 40th anniversary of Caritas Rome --  the charitable arm of the Diocese of Rome.  He spent the evening with more than 220 participants in Caritas' charitable programs, among them refugees and single mothers.

The Citadel of Charity is a complex of charity centers including a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, dental clinic, and a "solidarity supermarket," the first free supermarket in Italy. In total, Caritas runs 52 centers throughout the city of Rome.

Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II also visited Caritas centers in Rome during their pontificates.

"The Gospel must be announced with witness, not with arguments, proselytizing," Pope Francis told the staff and volunteers of Caritas Rome.

"We cannot approach the poor at a distance. We must touch, touch the sores; they are the wounds of Jesus," he said.

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