The leader of the Catholic Church has been quietly sneaking out of the Vatican at night to minister to homeless residents, according to a new report.
“Swiss guards confirmed that the pope has ventured out at night, dressed as a regular priest, to meet with homeless men and women,” writes The Huffington Post.
The report hinted that Pope Francis had sneaked out of the enclave with Archbishop Konrad Krajewski. As Almoner of His Holiness, Krajewski is the Vatican’s point person on giving charity to the poor and visits the destitute nightly.
This isn’t the first time Pope Francis has earned attention and praise for his predilection to serve the needy. Just months after assuming the papacy, he invited nearly 200 homeless people to join him for dinner at the Vatican. He also deplored the plight of homeless people in the first apostolic exhortation of his papacy last week: “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”
Over the years, the Catholic Church has grown too “obsessed” with abortion, contraception, and gay marriage, Pope Francis argued in May, imploring followers instead to focus on combating trickle-down economics and the world of inequality it produces.
Pope Francis has also taken a more modest personal approach than his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, shedding gold-embroidered robes and an ornate golden throne for white threads and a wooden chair.
These pronouncements and actions have earned him the nickname “Pope of the Poor,” a fitting tribute to a man who assumed the name of Francis after the 13th century Saint who focused attention on the poor.
Of course, Pope Francis’s outreach to the homeless is also putting into practice what the Bible teaches about treating those less fortunate in society. Most famously is Matthew 25:40, where Jesus taught followers, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Most interesting, however, is the Pope’s decision to serve the homeless without fanfare. A press release from the Vatican about Pope Francis’ meetings with the homeless would have undoubtedly earned him media praise, but the fact that he chose to sneak out undercover suggests a more humble approach. Perhaps he was following the teachings of Matthew 6:2: “When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.” Instead, give discreetly, “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”