Volunteers ask WYD pilgrims to give sleeping bags to Rio homeless

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 / 07:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A group of World Youth Day volunteers hope the event's innumerable pilgrims will donate their sleeping bags to the homeless to start living the Pope’s call to charity.

One volunteer, Inés San Martín, told CNA July 27 that the idea is important because it is “a concrete response to start putting into practice, from this moment, what Pope Francis has been preaching these days.”

The volunteers have publicized their idea on their new blog called “Contá con nosotros,” or “Count on us.” They hope that the more than one million youths gathered in Brazil will give their sleeping bags to the thousands of homeless in Rio de Janeiro instead of taking them home.

“During one week we interrupt the homeless with our singing when we return home,” San Martín said. “Giving them a sleeping bag is the perfect excuse to come close to them and explain them why!”

World Youth Day organizers had originally planned today’s vigil with Pope Francis to take place in Guaratiba, 30 miles away from Copacabana beach.

Pilgrims were expected to take public transport and then walk eight miles to the 34,000-acre field Campus Fidei within Guaratiba with their sleeping bags.

Nearly 5,000 portable bathrooms and 3.2 million gallons of water were expected to be available there for the pilgrims to spend the night and participate in the Mass with the Pope tomorrow morning.

But due to the constant rainy weather throughout the week, the site became a gigantic mud hole. Organizers thought it would be dangerous for the pilgrims and changed the venue for the prayer vigil and final Mass to Rio’s Copacabana Beach.

San Martín thought it likely that pilgrims will “just take their sleeping bags home and keep them stored for two or three years without even using them.

“This is a great chance to put them to good use,” she said.

Local media reports over 3 million people attendeed Saturday night's prayer vigil.

Pope Francis has spoken out on the need to help the poor.

When he visited the slum of Varginha he said “I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources.”

“Never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity!” he exclaimed. “No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world!”

The pontiff said that the culture of selfishness that prevails in society does not lead to a more habitable world.

“Rather, it is the culture of solidarity that does so,” said Pope Francis. “The culture of solidarity means seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters.”

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