Pope Francis’ Christmas Gift to Rome’s Poor: Phone Cards and Metro Tickets

Pope Francis’ Christmas Gift to Rome’s Poor: Phone Cards and Metro Tickets December 16, 2013
Rome train on the A line, at the Vittorio Emanuele metro station

Pope Francis has been making a list and checking it twice. 

On his first Christmas as Pope, the Holy Father is giving 2,000 prepaid telephone cards and 4,000 day tickets for the Metro, Rome’s underground rail system, to Rome’s poorest and most marginalized citizens.

Missionary Sisters of Charity welcome pilgrims and the needy to one of their helping centers

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, Almoner of His Holiness, will deliver 2,000 envelopes to locations and shelters in Rome where aid is offered by the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and by volunteers.  The Sisters and volunteers can write a name and mailing address on the envelopes, but no postage is necessary.  The envelopes, which were donated by the Vatican Typography, are franked with Vatican stamps, donated by the Vatican Post Office.

A Rome Metro pass

Each envelope contains a Christmas card signed by Pope Francis, a prepaid phone card, and Metro tickets.  The Metro tickets have been provided by the directorate of ATAC (the Municipal Agency for Transport in Rome.

*     *     *     *     *

UPDATE:  The Catholic News Agency has reported that the home I’ve photographed here, the Dono di Maria home, was the location where the Pope’s Christmas gifts were presented to the poor and homeless of Rome.  I took this photo when I was there in 2011, so I know exactly how close it is to St. Peter’s.

Just by way of information:  The Dono di Maria home was founded 25 years ago by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta with the blessing of Blessed John Paul II. Mother Teresa also founded a soup kitchen in Vatican City State dedicated to St. Martha, the patron saint of hospitality.

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  • Sygurd Jonfski

    Are these phone cards for cellphones? If so, how poor are the poor if they can afford to have cellphones?

    • joannemcportland

      Everyone in Europe and Asia, no matter how poor, has a cellphone with prepaid minutes. It’s the only means of communication for many families. This is not a luxury.

      • Sygurd Jonfski

        Well, certainly not “everyone” and these phones are not cheap. Have you ever been to Europe?

      • RuariJM

        A nice thought, Joanna, but not actually the case. Prepaid phones are very expensive.

    • RuariJM

      The phone cards are most likely for public pay phones.

      Everyone has access to them although snobby elitists – the sort who would query whether the poor were ‘deserving’ or should just ‘get a job’ – would probably never dream of using one and might even be surprised to learn that such things exist.

      I trust you would not begrudge access to a public pay phone to Rome’s poor, Sigurd? Even if it means that some undeserving case gets in touch with their family and maybe heals a longstanding rift and achieves some degree of happiness?

      • Sygurd Jonfski

        If you read my question again, RuariJM, you will see that it was about the cellphones, not the public phones. I wonder, however, why the pope would choose such a gift and why he offered it in a very public fashion. Considering the hullabaloo surrounding it, one might think that Catholic charity did not exist as a concept before the election of Pope Francis. And what has happened to Jesus’ advice in Matthew 6:2?

        • RuariJM

          I understood your question perfectly well, Sygurd. You were erecting a straw man by “asking” if the cards were for cellphones and then challenging whether poverty and cellphones could coexist.

          And now you’re doing it again. With so much practice one would have thought you would be less clumsy at it.

          There is no hulabaloo – no film crews, no press release that I have seen, just a small, unofficial report. The Pope is obviously seeking to follow the example you set and to do his charitable giving out of sight of the common herd, hard though that is for such a public figure, whose every step is dogged by reporters, whether muckraking, investigative or sycophantic.

          I presume that IS what you are doing, Sygurd? Giving charitably , out of sight and at monumental levels? Well, as your secret is virtually out, there’s no need to hide it any more. By all means share with us what you have been doing that qualifies you to criticise the Pope?

          • Sygurd Jonfski

            It is none of your business, RuariJM. And you better educate yourself about the meaning of the term “the straw man”. Asking legitimate questions is not it.

          • RuariJM

            Best keep your prejudiced and bigoted opinions to yourself, then, Sygurd, if you are not prepared to be held to account by your own standards.

            And you had best get a proper dictionary as well, and stop throwing stones at your own straw men while there are real issues to confront.

            Waste of time and space.

  • Magdalene

    Took the example of Obama.

  • Amy Mitchell

    European cell phones are either bill pay or prepay as you use them. As people upgrade, their old phones are given away. It is cheap to have a phone.
    A phone can be your only safety as it can mean you can contact help or family can find you. Being poor means that you have no fixed address.
    there is no monthly fee to have a cell phone there. Pope Francis gave them an opportunity to call home, friends or help.

  • limidom

    Easy to criticize, Sygurd. But what have you done to help the poor?

    • Sygurd Jonfski

      Ah, an automatic assumption that I have done nothing. How intelligent is this?

      • RuariJM

        An intelligent conclusion to draw from your wriggling and prevarication, Sygurd.