Vatican Cardinal nips down manhole, restores electricity

Opposing state authorities, a Rome-based cardinal has restored electricity at a disused, state-owned property being used by over 400 homeless people including 100 children.

The building has been occupied since 2013 after being taken over by activists, who are using it to provide shelter for the homeless and to host several workspaces.

Its power had been cut by its electricity supplier since 6 May because it had accumulated a 300,000 euro debt.

The sum is believed to have accumulated in the years since the unused building was taken over in 2013.

“I intervened personally last night to turn back on the meters. It was a desperate gesture. There were over 400 people without electricity, families with children,” says Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, almoner of the office of papal charities.

“I didn’t do it because I’m drunk,” he added.

His practical response to the situation was to climb down a manhole and flip a switch.

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s populist deputy prime minister, is expecting Krajewski to pay the outstanding arrears.

“I expect that the pope’s almoner, who intervened to turn the power back on in an occupied building in Rome, will also pay the 300,000 euros in back bills.”

As papal almoner, Krajewski is responsible for distributing donations to those in need on behalf of Pope Francis. Other initiatives he has carried out include providing a dormitory, barber services and showers for those in need.


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