On Saturday, Pope Francis received in audience a Delegation of the Friends of Gabriel Rosset and of the Foyer Notre-Dame des Sans-Abri, from the Archdiocese of Lyon, France, accompanied by the archbishop, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin.
Here is a translation of the Pope’s address.
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I am happy to meet with you and I would like you to know how much I appreciate your engagement with the poorest, with those that society rejects, who no longer have a roof, or food to assuage their hunger, or work or, therefore, dignity. I thank you for the presentation made to me of your engagement on behalf of your delegation.
Your founder, Gabriel Rosset, heard the cry of the poor. He was overwhelmed in face of the suffering of others and he responded generously. This appeal is none other than the appeal of the suffering Christ himself: in the persons that you serve; you touch their wounds and care for them and, at the same time, they give you a very profound teaching, because it is through them that you encounter Jesus. The poor evangelize us. They evangelize us always by communicating to us, mysteriously, the wisdom of God.
The present world is in urgent need of this testimony of divine mercy. Whereas today the human person is often rejected as useless when he is no longer profitable, God, on the contrary, always recognizes in him the dignity and nobility of a beloved child; he has a choice place in His heart. The poor man is the Lord’s favorite, he is at the center of the Gospel.
I thank you for giving this witness of mercy, by the many concrete actions, simple and warm gestures with which you relieve persons of their miseries, giving them also new hope, and rendering them their dignity. There is no better means to proclaim the joy of the Gospel today. The option for the last, for those that society rejects and puts aside, is a sign that we can always give, a sign that renders effective witness to Christ, dead and resurrected – a sacramental sign!
At this time of Advent when we turn our gaze to the Virgin Mary who has given the Savior to the world and took the greatest care of him, I will suggest this counsel to you: the counsel to remain well attached to the name that your founder wished to give to his work: Notre Dame des Sans Abri [Our Lady of the Homeless]. What a beautiful name: the Mother of Jesus who gives a roof to her children! The Marian dimension of your dedication to others seems essential to me. Mary’s heart is full of compassion for all men, especially the poorest and the most destitute, those who are in greatest need; and it is also her maternal tenderness – together with that of the Church – which is manifested through you.
I pray to Our Lady of the Homeless to keep you on your way, to render your dedication fruitful and to give faith and hope to all those whom you meet. May Almighty God bless you![Original text: French] [Translation by ZENIT]