Vatican City, Aug 23, 2013 / 12:04 pm – In a few weeks, Pope Francis will make a short trip outside the walls of the Vatican City to the center of Rome to visit a group of refugees.
On the afternoon of Sept. 10, he will greet those who receive free meals at the Jesuit Refugee Center, located at the mother church of the Jesuits.
The Society of Jesus – or Jesuits – have been running the Center Astalli, located behind the Church of the Gesù, for 13 years, along with the help of volunteers.
The center, which offers free showers and one meal each day, also helps refugees become legal citizens of Italy and find jobs and a place to live.
The president of the Center Astalli, Father Giovanni La Manna, wrote a letter to Pope Francis in April inviting him for a visit.
Within a few days, the pontiff telephoned Fr. La Manna saying he accepted the invitation.
The encounter between Pope Francis and the refugees of different faiths will be in private and exclude protocols established for official visits.
Next week, the heads of the center will meet with the Vatican to establish the organizational aspects of the visit.
The center, which promotes inter-religious and intercultural dialogue awareness, focuses on young generations as well as educational projects.