International

Pope Visits A Once-Troubled Lisbon Neighbourhood And Says True Charity Must ''Get Your Hands Dirty''

The midway point in Francis' five-day visit to Portugal began with the pontiff hearing confessions of some young people who were in Lisbon for World Youth Day.

Pope Francis
info_icon

Pope Francis visited a once troubled and crime-plagued neighbourhood of Portugal's capital on Friday to draw attention to the charitable side of the Catholic Church and the need to protect the world's most vulnerable people with concrete gestures that “get your hands dirty”.

The midway point in Francis' five-day visit to Portugal began with the pontiff hearing confessions of some young people who were in Lisbon for World Youth Day. The big Catholic youth festival will end Friday with a traditional Way of the Cross procession recreating Christ's crucifixion.

Francis visited a community centre in the city's Serafina neighbourhood, which sits beneath a giant 18th century aqueduct that is a symbol of the bounty that gold from Portugal's Brazilian colony once afforded the country.

Two decades ago, drug and crime problems dogged the neighbourhood, but it has largely left them behind thanks in part to efforts by church charity groups, including one that was created to provide a home for children with parents unable to care for them. Speaking off the cuff to young people and the charity organisers, Francis said true service must be done with concrete gestures that make an impact. He thanked church groups that have “gotten your hands dirty, touching the reality and the misery of others.”

“There is no such thing as abstract love. It doesn't exist,” the pope said. He said he couldn't come to Lisbon to celebrate World Youth Day without visiting the centre because “this is also youth, in the sense that you generate new life continually”. “With your conduct, your commitment and getting your hands dirty by touching the reality and misery of others, you are giving inspiration and generating life,” he said.

Francis has long said that true service and charity has to hurt, and that it's not enough just to give a beggar a coin on the street. He has championed the charitable side of the Catholic Church, including boosting the Vatican's own charitable efforts by providing showers and medical care to area homeless people while also sending regular truckloads of aid to Ukraine and other places wracked by conflict or natural disasters.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement