Pope Francis this week comforted a man with a severely disfigured face – just two weeks after he embraced an Italian man with neurofibromatosis, a condition that causes painful tumors all over the body.
The pontiff embraced the unnamed man after the weekly audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday. Reports said it is not known who the man is or how his face was damaged.
Two weeks ago, Pope Francis embraced Vinicio Riva, who has neurofibromatosis.
Riva later said he “felt only love” when the Pope laid his hands on him.
Reports said the Francis’ papacy has been marked by his focus on helping those less fortunate, particularly the poor and the disabled.
But for Pope Francis, comforting the stricken man was another simple act of compassion.
He has made personal calls to distraught worshippers, invited the homeless to dine at St Peter’s Square and washed the feet of young offenders.
Pope Francis has made a habit of dedicating time to greet and bless sick or disabled people at the end of the general audience
The so-called ‘Pope Francis Effect’ has been credited with a 20 percent rise in Catholic congregations in Britain, and similar boosts around the world.
New and lapsed Catholics are surging back to the confession box ‘by the hundreds or thousands’, according to the Italian Centre for Studies of New Religions.
In Italy half of priests have noted a marked rise in support for the church.
The Italian opinion poll Opinioni reported that more than four in five Italians have a ‘positive’ or ‘extremely positive’ opinion of the Pope.
Spain, which had been experiencing a decades-long slump, has also seen attendance figures begin to climb since the pontiff’s appointment.
Catholic leaders in France, the USA and Latin America have also reported growth in the numbers of churchgoing Catholics.
News category: World.