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Gerard O’ConnellApril 27, 2020
Pope Francis meets Marc, a street paper vendor from Utrecht, Netherlands, at the Vatican in October 2015. Marc conducted an exclusive interview with the pope for all street papers, through the news service of the International Network of Street Papers. INSP supports 113 street papers across the world, who offer employment to 13,000 homeless and marginalized people in 34 countries. (CNS photo/courtesy of Frank Dries, Straatnieuws) Pope Francis meets Marc, a street paper vendor from Utrecht, Netherlands, at the Vatican in October 2015. Marc conducted an exclusive interview with the pope for all street papers, through the news service of the International Network of Street Papers. INSP supports 113 street papers across the world, who offer employment to 13,000 homeless and marginalized people in 34 countries. (CNS photo/courtesy of Frank Dries, Straatnieuws) 

Pope Francis has sent a message to “the street newspapers” of the world, in which he again expressed his deep, personal concern for the homeless and other poor people and reaffirmed his spiritual “closeness” to them. This comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a high toll across the globe, threatening the lives of so many of the world’s poor.

The Vatican released his message of “encouragement and brotherly friendship” to the more than 100 street newspapers on Monday, April 27. In it, Francis greeted “the thousands of persons worldwide” who are involved in the writing, production and sale of these papers “who are for the most part homeless people, gravely marginalized, unemployed” and gain a meager income from the sale of “these extraordinary papers.”

The pope again expressed his deep, personal concern for the homeless and other poor people and reaffirmed his spiritual “closeness” to them.

Most of these newspapers provide coverage about the plight of the homelessness and various other poverty-related issues. Their aim is to highlight their dire situation and to foster and strengthen social bonds within homeless communities across the globe. New York’s “Street News” was among the first such publications in the world. In March 2015, Pope Francis gave an interview to young people from a shantytown newspaper in Buenos Aires; today he reached out to the global street newspaper community.

In his message, Pope Francis notes that these newspapers are now published in 35 countries and 25 different languages across the globe and provide employment and income to more than 20,000 persons. But he laments that the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that for weeks now “these papers cannot be sold” and so “the sellers have no work.”

Indeed, he said, “the life of millions of people has changed and is enduring a hard trial” as a result of “the difficult challenges” caused by the coronavirus pandemic. And, he said, “the most fragile people, the invisible ones, and the homeless persons are the ones that pay the heaviest price.”

Since his election as pope, the pope has constantly reached out to these people and has appointed a papal almoner to provide assistance to them. He made the Polish priest Konrad Krajewski a cardinal to emphasize the priority of such work in his pontificate. The pope’s message today is another instance of his reaching out to the poor whom he continually says are “at the heart of the Gospel.”

In today’s message, Pope Francis wrote, “I would like to express my solidarity with the journalists, the volunteers, and the people living thanks to these projects and who these days are doing everything they can thanks to many innovative ideas.” He acknowledged that the pandemic has made their life and work difficult but also sought to encourage them saying that once the pandemic ends, “I am sure that the great network of street papers will come back stronger than ever.”

Then, addressing people across the globe, Francis said, “to look at the poorest in these days can help us all to become aware of what is really happening [in the world] and the circumstances of our own life.”

He concluded by thanking all those involved in the street papers “for the work you do, and for the information you provide and for the stories of hope that you tell.”

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