Pope Francis Declines Capitol Hill Lunch to Spend Time With and Bless Homeless in Nation's Capital

Pope Francis
Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 24, 2015. |

Instead of accepting an invitation to dine with Washington lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday, Pope Francis showed up at St. Patrick Catholic Church to address and bless the food of the homeless served by Catholic Charities.

According to USA Today, Pope Francis compared the homeless to Joseph, the father of Jesus.

Hundreds of people gathered at St. Patrick's, many of whom were servers and those in need who regularly assemble to benefit from the food provided by the Catholic charitable agency that was founded in 1911.

"Your faces remind me of his," Francis said speaking in Spanish. "I can imagine Joseph, with his wife about to have a child, with no shelter, no home, no place to stay," declared Pope Francs.

"The Son of God came into this world as a homeless person. The Son of God knew what it was to start life without a roof over his head. We can imagine what Joseph must have been thinking. How is it that the Son of God has no home?"

Catholic Charities, one of the largest charitable organizations in the country, serves over 9 million Americans across the country.

Before he appeared in the dining facility, he spoke briefly at the St. Patrick Cathedral saying that there "is no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing."

Homeless Jesus
A man sleeps on a sculpture of a figure called 'Homeless Jesus' in front of the Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Charities offices in Washington, September 16, 2015. During Pope Francis' visit to the U.S., which begins September 22, 2015, the pope will highlight the work of the Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Charities, who help more than 100,000 clients annually with services including food distribution, medical and dental care, and legal services. Picture taken September 16, 2015. |

"Like Saint Joseph, you may ask: Why are we homeless, without a place to live? These are questions which all of us might well ask. Why do these, our brothers and sisters, have no place to live? Why are these brothers and sisters of ours homeless?"

Joseph's questions are timely even today; they accompany all those who throughout history have been, and are, homeless."

In his address to a joint session of Congress earlier on Thursday, Pope Francis uplifted the universal dignity of humankind and encouraged people to keep in mind those "trapped in a cycle of poverty."

"They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes," declared Pope Francis.

"I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem. It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth."

Pope Francis reminded the assembled that when believers pray "there is no rich or poor people," but there is only a common "brotherhood." He said that God does not abandon people during "unjust situations" and faith delivers "a light that scatters the darkness."

"It is in prayer that our hearts find the strength not to be cold and insensitive in the face of injustice," declared Pope Francis.

Pope Francis cited the 6th chapter of the Book of Numbers before departing. "Before leaving you, I would like to give you God's blessing: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace."

Pope Francis asked for prayers for himself and said he needed to feel the "support" and "closeness" from the gathered. Founded in 1794, St. Patrick's is the oldest Catholic Church in Washington D.C.

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