Benedict XVI to Visit Caritas Shelter

Agency Notes Increased Poverty in Italy

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ROME, FEB. 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- On Sunday, Benedict XVI will visit a homeless shelter run by Caritas to underline the needs of the impoverished throughout Europe.



A Caritas communiqué noted that the Pope plans to visit the medical center, the hostel for the homeless and the canteen in this shelter in Rome.

He will also address some of the people who are served by the shelter, as well as the doctors, nurses, and some 300 volunteers. The Pontiff plans to speak with the city's mayor and Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome.

Caritas runs four food canteens in the city, feeding some 1300 daily. The agency runs hostels for people who are infected with HIV, serves the children of immigrants, and manages a shop where the poor can "buy" items with tokens.

Caritas Italy reported a 20% increase in the number of people coming for aid in recent years.

In response to these needs, as well as in recognition of the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, Caritas Europa launched a "Zero Poverty" campaign to encourage governments to "tackle the root causes of poverty."

The president of Caritas Europa, Father Erny Gillen, stated that the agency "wants to contribute to a new way of looking at poverty."

He continued: "Poverty is more than a lack of material well-being.

"It affects the person in his or her body, his or her soul and his or her life."

The president affirmed, "As a human community, we cannot let even a single person slide into the poverty spiral."

The agency reported that 79 million Europeans currently live below the poverty line, including 19 million children.