January 19, 2000
volume 11, no. 13
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Vatican Jubilee Committee Will Provide 600 Free Meals Daily
    VATICAN CITY, JAN 17 (ZENIT).- The Jubilee Committe has launched the "Pope's Charity Project" to feed the homeless of Rome and poor pilgrims. Since the beginning of the new year, 7 homeless persons have died in Italy because of the cold, making their tragic lives news only after their deaths.

    In keeping with the project, within the next two weeks 500 meals will be distributed free of charge in Rome every day (including a plate of hot Italian pasta, a snack and a beverage). The distribution points are the four main Basilicas of the Holy Year: St. Peter's in the Vatican, St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major.

    In order to implement this project, the Vatican counts on the support of food business enterprises that will make available much of the goods that will be distributed.

    200 meals a day will be distributed on the Via Pfeiffer, next to the Vatican; 100 in the Passionist Convent near St. John Lateran, and an additional 200 in St. Paul's and St. Mary Major, on land owned by the Vatican.

    According to Angelo Scelzo, director of the Communications Office of the Vatican Jubilee Committee, the "Pope's Charity Project" is directed primarily "to the neediest of the city, to the indigent, and to pilgrims of scarce resources, to whom the Jubilee wishes to give special attention," at John Paul II's insistence.

    The Jubilee Committee has also approached the religious communities in the Eternal City to undertake similar initiatives. One of them is "Casa Dono di Maria," at No. 9 Via del Santo Ufficio in the Vatican. This is the center opened by Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her religious, at John Paul II's request. Normally, this center gives food to anyone in need at specified times. It is one of six houses of the Missionaries of Charity in Rome.

    Another Catholic organization that is very dynamic in the field is the St. Egidio Community, which not only feeds hundreds of beggars every day, but also goes out to find them in the freezing streets. The members of this Community commit themselves to "adopt" one of these men and women marginalized by the consumer society, and become their friend. The members say that the hardest part of life for the homeless is generally loneliness.

    In addition, 400 houses of Italian dioceses and religious institutes have confirmed that they will offer accommodation to Jubilee pilgrims at economical prices. Some 40 communities will offer free hospitality. Together, these two endeavors add up to 26,000 beds available for those coming to Rome during the year 2000.

    The Committee for the Preparation of the Jubilee has used the money obtained from the sale of the Jubilee's official logo to create a Solidarity Fund dedicated to help poorer pilgrims. Trips and stays in Rome will be paid for by this Fund, whose president, Völker Goetz, said that to date the Fund has raised $16 million.

    Combining the data of these Catholic institutions, it is estimated that around 6,000 persons live on the streets of Rome. ZE00011703


January 19, 2000
volume 11, no. 13

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