Don Corrado, the cardinal friend of the homeless

New Cardinal Konrad Krajewski distributes food to the poor and homeless

Don Corrado, the cardinal friend of the homeless

By Andrea Tornielli/ lastampa.it

Papal almoner Krajewski is the most surprising name in the list of new cardinals announced by Pope Francis.

“I was getting my bicycle ready to leave the Vatican, when they told me to listen to the Pope at Regina Coeli... I had no idea. And I don’t really want to think about what has just happened to me: I’m getting things ready for tonight at the Ostiense station, I’m bringing food to the homeless”. The voice of 54-year-old Polish Bishop Konrad Krajewski, almoner of His Holiness, originally from Łódź, whom everyone knows as “Don Corradoˮ, can’t help but being emotional, he’s truly surprised at having been included in the list of new cardinals.

The Pope’s operative arm for charity towards the clochards, immigrants, refugees, and needy, will receive together with thirteen others “colleagues”, the purple hat on 29 June, thus becoming part of the closest counselors of the Pope and of the electors of his successor in case of conclave, willing to serve the Church and the Bishop of Rome “usque ad sanguinis effusionem”, even unto the shedding of blood, symbolized by the color of the garments.

There has never been a papal almoner cardinal. Francis’ gesture therefore represents a sign of predilection, shining light on the activity that Don Corrado carries out in first person, tirelessly and without ever remaining behind his desk. His job takes place on the street, in train stations, in reception centres. “For my work and myself, this honor of becoming cardinal might complicate things- he explains to Vatican Insider after having spent two hours praying in the chapel, without being able to understand what had happened, a totally unexpected event for him - perhaps this is the way the Holy Father wants to show his attention to the suburbs and to the new and old poverty”.

In the last five years, the name of Krajewski would often be tied to extraordinary initiatives: the showers and barber service under the colonnade for the poor and homeless, the medical clinics “on the goˮ for the poor on the street, the distribution of food and sleeping bags in train stations, phone cards for immigrants, aid distributed personally to the earthquake victims. “But I’ve done nothing on my own initiative, everything always started from the Pope, so I should not be given any merit. The news came as an absolute surprise. I think it is a proof of attention and closeness to all those realities that assist the poor. It was enough for me to be the almoner of the Pope to be heard, because I represent him. When they give me offerings for the poor they trust me because they trust the Pope”.

Monsignor Kraiewski, who is also tasked with finding reception places for refugees and migrants, lives in a small apartment on the ground floor, opposite the Office of Papal Charities, close to the walls onto Via di Porta Angelica. He knows by name many homeless people who live around the Vatican and other parts of the city. When possible, he gets them involved in carrying out small tasks, always ensuring a hot meal. It is as if Francis wanted to say: those who take Jesus’ words in the Gospel seriously on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, welcoming the stranger, are my main collaborators.

“I am still very confused - Don Corrado concludes before leaving accompanied by some volunteers, Vatican gendarmes, to distribute food at the Ostiense train station - and in these hours, I keep on repeating Don Dolindo Ruotolo’s words, a holy priest, whom Padre Pio knew well, who said “Jesus, you take care of it”

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:28
Comment through the site Comment through facebook

Comments

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.