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Pope visits a once-troubled neighborhood in Lisbon to attract consideration to the church’s charitable facet

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LISBON, Portugal — LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Pope Francis visited a once-troubled and crime-plagued neighborhood in Portugal’s capital on Friday to attract consideration to the charitable facet of the Catholic Church and to press his case for a church that goes to the peripheries and welcomes everybody.

Francis continued his busy schedule in Portugal, listening to confessions of some younger individuals who had been in Lisbon for World Youth Day, the massive Catholic competition, after which having a festive pasta and steak lunch with others. Later Friday, he was presiding over the solemn Manner of the Cross procession recreating Christ’s crucifixion.

Francis visited a group middle within the metropolis’s Serafina neighborhood, which sits beneath a large 18th-century aqueduct that may be a image of the bounty of the bounty that gold from Portugal’s Brazilian colony as soon as afforded the nation.

20 years in the past, drug and crime issues dogged the neighborhood, however Serafina has tried to place that previous behind it, thanks partly to efforts by church charity teams, together with one which was created to supply a substitute for mother and father contemplating abortions or who in any other case could not care for his or her kids.

Talking off the cuff to younger individuals and the charity organizers, Francis stated true service should be achieved with concrete gestures that make an affect. He stated he couldn’t come to Lisbon to have a good time World Youth Day with out visiting the middle as a result of “that is additionally youth, within the sense that you simply generate new life regularly.”

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“Together with your conduct, your dedication and getting your fingers soiled by touching the fact and distress of others, you might be giving inspiration and producing life,” he stated.

Francis has lengthy stated that true service and charity has to harm, and that it’s not sufficient simply to offer a beggar a coin on the road. He has championed the charitable facet of the Catholic Church, together with boosting the Vatican’s efforts by offering showers and medical care to space homeless individuals whereas additionally sending common truckloads of help to Ukraine and different locations wracked by battle or pure disasters.

Pedro Duarte, who works on the St. Vincent de Paul social middle in Serafina, stated Francis’ go to was essential as a result of he was backing his phrases with motion.

“It’s so essential that the pope not solely stated that one ought to go to the peripheries, however that he truly got here to the periphery,” he stated exterior the middle the place different group members had gathered to cheer Francis as he got here and left.

In Lisbon, Francis has additionally emphasised the inclusive message of the church that he has championed all through his 10-year papacy, telling the World Youth Day opening ceremony on Thursday that “within the church, there may be room for everybody.” He led the group of a half-million individuals in a chant of “todos, todos, todos” or “everybody, everybody, everybody” to make his level.

That message of inclusivity has resonated particularly with LGBTQ+ Catholics, who’ve lengthy felt ostracized by a church that considers gay exercise “intrinsically disordered.” Francis, although, has provided a message of welcome to LGBTQ+ Catholics, ranging from his very first World Youth Day in 2013, when he famously stated “Who am I to evaluate,” when requested a few purportedly homosexual priest.

Dignity USA, a bunch of LGBTQ+ Catholics, has a delegation in Lisbon and stated general the reception was Positive, with a number of moments of stress.

“We’ve been capable of commerce our rainbow pens, our rainbow prayer playing cards,” member Sam Barnes stated Friday.

There was an incident by which protesters tried to disrupt an LGBTQ+ Mass, but it surely went forward after police had been known as in, stated one of many members, who gave her title as Victoria and stated she was a transgender Catholic.

“It’s essential that everybody, impartial of their sexuality, can have their religion and their relation with God,” Victoria stated, including that regardless of such incidents she has felt very accepted in Lisbon.

The Mass had been organized by the Centro Arcoiris, an offshoot of a a lot bigger Portuguese LGBTQ+ Catholic group known as Sopro. They arrange a “Rainbow Heart” to welcome LGBTQ+ pilgrims to World Youth Day, exterior the official group.

In one other incident captured on social media and broadcast on Portuguese tv, two World Youth Day members informed a transgender participant to place away her flag.

In an interview revealed Friday by the Spanish Catholic journal Vida Nueva, Francis referred to his frequent conferences with members of the transgender group and his message of welcome.

“The primary time a bunch of transsexuals got here to the Vatican and noticed me, they left weeping, saying I had given them my hand, a kiss, as if I had achieved one thing distinctive,” Francis was quoted as saying. “However they’re kids of God!”

The Rev. James Martin, an American Jesuit who runs an outreach program for LGBTQ+ Catholics, stated he had dined in Lisbon with the Arcoiris group the night time earlier than the Mass was disrupted. He stated that they had been wanting ahead to the liturgy, which he didn’t attend.

Recalling that the incident occurred on the identical day as Francis’ “todos, todos, todos” remark, Martin tweeted: “LGBTQ persons are a part of todos.”


A earlier model of this story was corrected to point out that the Manner of the Cross procession closes the pope’s schedule on Friday, not the competition.


Related Press faith protection receives help via the AP’s collaboration with The Dialog US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely answerable for this content material.

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