Vatican City, 13 December 2014 (VIS) – “Notre Dame des Sans-Abri (Our Lady of the Homeless)! What a beautiful name! The mother of Jesus, who gives shelter to her sons”, said Pope Francis this morning as he received in audience the Foyer de Notre Dame des Sans-Abri, the association founded in Lyon in 1952 by Gabriel Rosset to assist the thousands of homeless men, women and children who lived under bridges, or in unsanitary and overcrowded huts.
“I would like you to know how much I appreciate your commitment to the poorest, to those who society turns away, those who have no roof over their heads or food to eat, those who are without work and therefore without dignity. Your founder listened to the cry of the poor; he was moved by the suffering of others, and responded generously. This call is none other than the call of the suffering Christ Himself; in the people you serve, you touch their wounds and cure them; and at the same time, they offer you profound teaching, since through them you encounter Jesus. The poor always evangelise us, they communicate God's wisdom to us, mysteriously. Today's world urgently needs this witness of divine mercy. At a time in which the human being is frequently rejected as useless when no longer productive, God, on the other hand, always acknowledges the dignity and nobility of his beloved son and daughter, who has a privileged position in His heart. The poor are the Lord's most favoured, and are at the centre of the Gospel”.
“I thank you for this witness of mercy that you offer with many concrete actions, simple and warm gestures through which you alleviate the misery people suffer, giving them new hope and restoring their dignity to them. There is no better way to announce to today's world the joy of the Gospel. The option for the last among us, for those society rejects and casts aside, is a sign that we can always give, a sign that effectively bears witness to Christ, Who died and rose again”.
Finally, Pope Francs invited the members of the foundation to remain faithful to their name, recalling the Marian dimension of their work. “Mary's heart is full of compassion for all people, especially for the poorest and most disadvantaged, those who are most in need; and it is her maternal tenderness – along with that of the Church – that is made manifest through you”.