Pope appeals for help, prayers for homeless amid pandemic

Pope Francis has appealed for prayers and help for the homeless amid the global crisis brought about by the spread of the new coronavirus disease.

During his morning Mass that is broadcast daily online, the pontiff prayed that the pandemic may awaken the consciences of the people over the plight of the homeless.

The pope said he was struck by a newspaper photo of homeless people “lying in a parking lot under observation.” He said it highlights the “many hidden problems” in the world.

“There are so many homeless people today,” noted Pope Francis in his remarks before the Mass on April 2, reported CNS.

He urged the faithful to ask St. Teresa of Kolkata “to awaken in us a sense of closeness to so many people in society who, in everyday life, live hidden but, like the homeless, in the moment of the crisis, are living in this way.”

In his homily, the pope said that God’s promise to make Abraham the father of many nations highlights “the election, the promise and the covenant.”

“Each one of us is elected; no one chooses to be a Christian among all the possibilities that the religious ‘market’ has to offer; he or she is elected,” said the pontiff.

“We are Christians because we have been chosen. In this election, there is a promise, a promise of hope, a sign of fruitfulness,” he added.

He said God’s “election and promise” are followed by “a covenant of faithfulness” with Christians that requires more than just proving one’s faith by their baptism.

“The faith of baptism is an (identity) card,” the pope said.

“You are a Christian if you say yes to the election that God has made upon you, if you go after that promise that the Lord has made to you and if you live in a covenant with the Lord. This is Christian life,” he said.

He warned that Christians can stray from the path set forth by God if they do not accept God’s election by choosing “many idols, many things that are not of God.”

In a statement released last month, the European Public Health Alliance warned that the ongoing public health emergency has made obvious that housing and health are “intrinsically interlinked.”

“Living without a home, rough sleeping or staying in temporary accommodation is very damaging for health,” said the organization, adding that homeless people often have many complex health issues.

The group said that many of the measures aimed at the general population — self-isolation, increased hygiene, staying at home, strict social distancing — are not a realistic prospect for people experiencing homelessness.

“If this gap is not addressed, these and other vulnerable members of our societies will be left out from the public policy responses to the pandemic,” warned the group.

“Transmission from this high-risk population is also difficult to contain, meaning that protecting people experiencing homelessness is an important element of managing the wider public health crisis,” it added.

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