Pope Francis visited the House of Hope rehabilitation center for children with disabilities in South Korea on Aug. 15 where he was welcomed in a festive and joyful environment. The Pope arrived Kkottongnae, known as the “City of Flowers,” in the early evening and was received by thousands of people in the streets chanting “Viva el Papa, Viva Cristo” and adorned by South Korean and Vatican flags. After greeting the people in the streets, the pontiff was received by two religious sisters and a religious brother who are in charge of the House of Hope. The Pope was taken around and shown the rehabilitation center which serves children with severe disabilities. Part of the tour included a small chapel where Pope Francis stopped and prayed with several religious and three young people with disabilities. Upon leaving the chapel, he affectionately blessed the young people and then moved on to a large room where he was warmly greeted by 50 people with disabilities and several religious. A child in a wheelchair presented Pope Francis with a bouquet of flowers which the Pope then carried and placed at the feet of a statue of the Virgin Mary. As the Pope walked around, greeted and blessed each person affectionately, he was given by another child a wreath of violet flowers which he wore around his neck as he circled the room. Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-huh, Bishop of Cheongju, addressed the Holy Father and said “these children have suffered from double abandonment: abandoned first by their parents for birth defects and later by society because nobody wanted to adopt them because of prejudices against children with disabilities.” “Holy Father, your visit is a strong call for us to practice preferential love and concern for children with disabilities.” Upon conclusion of his visit to the House of Hope, Pope Francis blessed all of the children and prayed with them a Hail Mary.
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