Eight months into his tenure as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has become known for focusing on the poor and needy, but he may be helping the homeless in a more direct way than anyone imagined.
In an interview with uCatholic, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who serves as “Almoner of His Holiness,” implied that Pope Francis may be sneaking out of the Vatican at night to personally give money and food to the homeless citizens of Rome. As part of his job, Krajewski hands out money to the poor, and he hinted that Pope Francis may have joined him on more than one such relief effort.
“When I say to him, ‘I’m going out into the city this evening,’ there’s the constant risk that he will come with me,” Krajewski said.
When asked to clarify, Krajewski refused, and when asked point blank if Pope Francis had ever accompanied him on these late-night missions, Krajewski simply smiled and responded “next question.”
Though Krajewski sneakily declined to comment on whether or not Pope Francis personally gives money to the poor, he did comment that Francis used to do exactly that as archbishop of Buenos Aires, before he was elected pope.
“That’s what he’s like -- at the beginning (of his papacy) he didn’t think of the awkwardness that he might create,” Krajewski said. “As archbishop of Buenos Aires, when he was known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the future pontiff would go out at night ... to find people, talk with them, or buy them something to eat. He would sit with them and eat with them on the street. This is what he wants from me.”
Krajewski’s statements were surprising, but they remained unconfirmed until Tuesday, when an anonymous source in the church told the Huffington Post that “Swiss guards confirmed that the pope has ventured out at night, dressed as a regular priest, to meet with homeless men and women.”
Pope Francis is far from the only pope known to sneak out of the Vatican at night. As uCatholic notes, Pope John XXIII was known to sneak away from the Holy See and take in the beauty of Rome, while Pope Pius XII disguised himself as a Franciscan during World War II and helped Rome’s Jewish residents flee the city.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.