There is a Gospel in the making on the streets

Known in the Vatican as “Don Corrado” – the Papal Almoner leads alms-giving in the city of Rome on the pope’s behalf.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski’s parish is the street, and no virus will stop him from helping the poor, he says.

On Sunday, he toured around the Roman parishes and told them that “washing the feet of those in need is like consecration during Eucharist.”

He also urged priests under lockdown to open their showers to the poor, “respecting all procedures of protection” from the coronavirus.

“I went to one friary – I asked – how many of you are there? They said 20. It is 20 men that can serve the poor! We don’t need to put our lay volunteers in danger, the Churchmen can do it!” Krajewski says.

In his opinion, prayer without alms these days is “incomplete”.

“Before Urbi et Orbi on Friday, the Holy Father gave 30 respirators to hospitals, then he prayed for the world,” Krajewski said.

Krajewski has a special message to the hundreds of priests around studying at pontifical universities in Rome:

“Put away the theology books for now – there is a Gospel in the making on the streets.”

Two homeless people and a Muslim woman regularly prepare sandwiches for the city’s poor in his home in the Vatican.

“It is a home church,” he says.

The poor are telling him they are hungry, he says.

“There is no place to go for them to ask for help – bars and restaurants are closed.”

Urging priests to go out and serve the poor, he says: “We have two hands, the intelligence of the Gospel: We only lack a little courage.”

Krajewski is not asking his confreres to do anything he wouldn’t – and isn’t – doing himself.

While Rome is under lockdown, he collects food from factories and businesses in Rome and delivers it personally to the city’s poor.

“Companies are giving away tons of food. We have to deliver it before it goes bad,” he says.

On his delivery-round this week are two convents where dozens of sisters are infected with COVID-19 (coronavirus).

The Pontifical Villas Dairy Production from the Vatican’s Castel Gandolfo property donates fresh milk and yoghurt every day.

Saying he once dreamed of being a milkman, he jokes that his dream is now coming true.

Krajewski says he has been tested for COVID-19, and the results were negative.

“I did it for the sake of the poor and people who work with me – they need to be safe,” he says.

Krajewski’s position as papal almoner has been given greater attention under Pope Francis’s pontificate.

He is widely seen as one of the pontiff’s closest collaborators.



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