Friday, January 4, 2008

Pope Visits Homeless Shelter in Rome

Rome, Jan. 4, 2008 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) visited a Roman shelter for homeless women, run by the Missionaries of Charity, on January 4.

Each year during the Christmas season the Pope visits a charitable institution in Rome. Last year Pope Benedict stopped at a soup kitchen run by Caritas, and the previous year he visited the St. Martha clinic, a pediatric center inside the Vatican walls. This year the Holy Father chose to tour the Casa Dono di Maria, where 70 women are housed under the care of the religious order founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

In his remarks to residents and staff, the Pope recalled that Mother Teresa named the institution the "Gift of Mary" center because she wanted those living there "to be able to experience the love of the Blessed Virgin." That love would be shown, she said, by "the presence of people who pause to listen to those in difficulty and serve them with the same readiness that caused the mother of the Lord to visit St. Elisabeth."

At Christmas, the Pontiff continued, the world is reminded that Jesus was born into poverty and "experienced the discomforts that many of you experience." The celebration of the Nativity, he said, is a reminder that "God never abandons us."

About 120 members of the Missionaries of Charity, serving in different charitable institutions in Rome, assembled at the Casa Dono di Maria for the papal visit. The Pontiff told them that the shelter, opened in 1988, was "a sign and an example for other Christian communities to become ever more welcoming and open."

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