On Thursday the “Pope of Surprises” made an unscheduled stop at the welcoming center for pilgrims in Rome for the Jubilee of Mercy, before heading to three Vatican departments for a lengthy visit after.
Francis dropped by the Jubilee Welcoming Center at 9 a.m. Feb. 4, where he surprised the roughly 10 workers and the different groups of pilgrims who were present when he arrived through the back entrance.
The center, which provides resources to pilgrims that have come to Rome specifically for the Holy Year as well as registration for tickets to go through the Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica, is located right next to the office for the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which the Pope also visited.
Pope Francis visited three different Vatican departments today as part of his continued tour of various dicasteries in the Roman Curia.
Among them were the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which share the same building, and then the Pontifical Congregation for Eastern Churches.
Once he left the welcoming center, the Pope continued on to the rest of Curial departments next door.
According to sources inside, Francis spent about 60 minutes with the council Cor Unum, speaking to them about their work, expectations and interactions with other offices.
Similarly, in his last stop Francis spent nearly an hour with the Congregation for Eastern Churches and talked with department members about the current issues Eastern Churches face.
Officials familiar with the visit said the Pope showed that clearly understands and shares the concerns of department members.
In a Feb. 4 interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the council for the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, said that his department is “deeply grateful” to the Pope for his visit.
“The Pope gave us a great lesson on how to carry forward the New Evangelization, above all (on) the theme of pastoral conversion…as well as the theme of catechesis, which is a great challenge that is in our hands but is a great challenge for the Church,” he said.
He said that the Pope was also very open in answering questions from different collaborators of the council, and that Francis also brought up the procession that will take place Saturday, bringing the relics of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina and Saint Leopold Mandic to St. Peter's Basilica.
The Pope “made reference to that, recalling his deep devotion to Fr. Leopold in particular,” the archbishop said, noting that Francis wanted draw attention to the “great example” the saints are of confession.
The “great value” these saints add both in the life of faith and the individual life of Christians is owed to the Sacrament of Confession, Archbishop Fisichella said, “because it is celebrated with a deep warmth and with a sense of great mercy.”
— Elise Harris (@eharris_it) February 4, 2016rn