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Vatican officials held a funeral Mass on Jan. 10 for Alexander Pawlewski, a beggar who was often seen on the streets of Rome and died from exposure to the cold last month.

The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, who is responsible for distributing donations to those in need on behalf of Pope Francis. Father Policarpo Nowak of the Vatican Secretariat of State delivered the homily.

“Let us defend ourselves from the evil of selfishness and indifference, offering more time to our neighbor, and above all recognizing his full dignity as a child of God,” the priest said.

Pawlewski, a 63 year-old Polish national, was found dead on the street with his sole possessions – a cardboard box he used as a bed and a blanket to keep warm.

The Community of Sant'Egidio, which has helped the poor around the Vatican for more than 30 years, often provided him with assistance and took charge of organizing his funeral in collaboration with the Pontifical Urban University.

The funeral Mass came a month after Pawlewski's death and was held at the university chapel. Members of the Community of Sant'Egidio, Vatican personnel and some of his fellow homeless friends attended the funeral. Friends said no family member ever took interest in him.

In his homily, Fr. Nowak urged a greater openness to those who live in poverty.

“Due to the economic, spiritual and moral crisis of today, the hearts of many are frozen and many are dying in inhumane conditions,” he said.

“When we encounter the poor,” he reflected, “do we treat them with affection or do we humiliate them? Let us remember that Christ became man choosing to be poor, and therefore the poor are truly privileged relatives of Jesus, like Mary. So treat them and look at them as such.”

Carlo Santoro of the Community of Sant'Egidio said loneliness “is something very common among those who live on the street. They truly suffer because of it.”

“I assure you that the homeless, the poor, are exactly like us and therefore, they have the right to a beautiful funeral, only sometimes these are people who die alone and no one knows of their death,” Father Nowak said.
What have any of us done for the poor lately?
was the assistance a new cardboard box every once in a while?
(01-15-2014, 04:02 AM)Poche Wrote: [ -> ]What have any of us done for the poor lately?

To be honest, I haven't done crap. But I'm thinking about your question as a challenge...

I have a fantasy of having a really big house and having the means to be able to do things like taking people in, giving them an address, getting them clothes, keeping them fed, giving them a "toehold" so they can catch their breath and have a place to BE so they can start to move forward instead of worrying about where they're going to sleep that night. I wouldn't be able to deal with hardcore substance abusers and folks with really serious mental/emotional problems (at least not unless I had a staff or something -- but that's not the kind of thing I envision), but to be able to just give some folks a place to BE, to help them get their stuff together, get their paperwork in one place, help them write resumes, get to them the things they need in order to get a gig (clothes, a way to get to the job, an address and phone number, access to a computer, etc.) and letting them live rent-free someplace for a few months til they saved up enough for their own place (first and last month rent and deposit + enough to get utilities going + a little financial cushion for emergencies + the very basic housewares like pots, pans, dishes, etc.) -- how totally, totally FULFILLING that'd be. So many people are so very, very close to homelessness, and once you don't have a home, you're sort of screwed in trying to get ahead. How can a potential boss even get a hold of you if you get an interview? How can you go on an interview without decent clothes? How can you even get there if you don't have a car and it's not near a bus line? There's so MUCH folks take for granted... (in addition to that being spiritually fulfilling, I think it'd be emotionally fulfilling, too, with lots of company, work to do, being able to be "Mamma" in some way...)

It'd be great to be able to prepare a bunch of brown paper bags full of sandwiches and fruit and (let's get real) dessert to hand out, especially when it's cold out like it is now. Good food, too, not just "here's a PB&J and an apple. Again." (not that PB&J and apples aren't stupendous obviously, but I think anyone'd get sick of eating nothing but that all the time). ***

Anyway, as much as the Holy Father can make me pazz' with a lot of things (boy howdy!), I do like his emphasis on the corporal works of mercy.  The secondary effect of all that -- the good "PR" for the Church -- is nice, too. It doesn't make me any less bothered by a LOT of what's going on -- and not going on -- with regard to Tradition, the liturgy, etc., but it's a good thing in itself.

***  Ya know, I was getting ready to post this when this paragraph reminded me of something.  I've mentioned this story on the forum before:  Shirley Jackson's "Come Dance With Me in Ireland," which was published in The New Yorker in May 15, 1943 (I had to look that up; I don't have the kind of mind that keeps info like that stored, just FYI LOL). Anyway, I recommend anything by Jackson, but this story came to mind when thinking about that paragraph I wrote and remembering a friend of mine telling me about this women's shelter she, my friend, had done work for before. She said that the woman running the place treated the abused women with disrespect, doling out her "charitable" favors as if she were checking off boxes in a "To Do List" rather than relating to the women as human beings. I don't remember the specific details, and it's difficult to get across the point I'm trying to make, but I guess the point of it is that some folks treat the beneficiaries of their benevolence with condescension and an attitude that psychically amounts to "I'm doing you a favor so I can be a thoughtless bitch about it." They not only have the idea that "beggars can't be choosers," which is a sad Truth, but seem to savor it because they're in the position to remind them that that's the case or something. Imagine such a person, say, dropping a tray of sandwiches on the dirty floor -- and then picking them all up and serving them, saying, "Well, it's just for THESE women, so who cares?" Rather than, say, doing something that is just as cost and time efficient as another option and which would give the recipient of charity some choice, or a sense of dignity, they do something else, maybe out of laziness or sheer indifference -- or worse (as an example, serving oatmeal every single day for breakfast instead of mixing it up and serving Cream of Wheat or polenta, too, once in a while, just as a change of pace, a little something to look forward to). There can be a sort of thoughtlessness on the part of some who pride themselves on how "charitable" they are, a basic lack of respect and empathy. A lack of Love. That Shirley Jackson story nails it (if I could find it online, I'd post it. Alas!)

So nice that these NO priests take an interest in giving a funeral to the poor and those despised by society, but what about the funeral that was denied to Erich Priebke, the repentant ex Nazi war criminal that was paying his debt to society after being charged and sentenced and also was a regular penetent and communicant ?

Obvioiusly his poverty and loneliness were not sufficient, the fact that he was truly despised by the world, including the bleeding hearts in the Church, wasn't sufficient for him to receive any consideration.

These funerals liberal clergy are giving to the homeless are thus shown to be a PR stunt, an attempt to receive an approving nod from the Pope - but they also reveal the true hypocracy and double standard in the Church --- just do what is safe and what the world approves, not what is just or truly merciful.