Rome Newsroom, Nov 5, 2023 / 07:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis opened two new laundromats for the homeless in the northern Italian city of Turin on Thursday, Nov. 2.
The new facilities are part of an initiative launched in collaboration with the international consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble and the consumer electronics company Haier Europe, with the assistance of the Community of Sant’Egidio and Apostolic Almsgiving, the papal office of charitable activity.
“With the two new laundries inaugurated in Turin we hope to be able to help many people in difficulty to improve their living conditions, starting from the possibility of taking care of their personal hygiene and that of their clothing,” said Riccardo Calvi, communications director for Procter & Gamble Italia.
The laundromats are located in the parish of San Giorgio Martire and the La Sosta welcome center in Turin’s city center and are operated by volunteers of Sant’Egidio.
The new facilities include washers and dryers donated by Haier as well as detergent. In addition to the laundry services, there are hot showers, and a full range of personal hygiene products will be available, such as shampoo, conditioners, body washes, razors, and shaving creams provided by Procter & Gamble.
These services are “offered free of charge to the poorest people, in particular those without a fixed abode,” Calvi said.
This is not the first such project that the pope has launched in Italy. In 2015 Pope Francis launched a barbershop for the poor, a service run by volunteers, to help provide essential grooming services for Rome’s indigent and homeless.
This effort was followed by the first “Pope’s Laundromat,” which opened in Rome in 2017 and a second one in the Ligurian port city of Genoa in 2019.
This initiative was born out of Pope Francis’ apostolic letter Misericordia et Misera, which was released at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in 2016.
“The Church must always be vigilant and ready to identify new works of mercy and to practice them with generosity and enthusiasm,” the letter reads.
“Let us make every effort, then, to devise specific and insightful ways of practicing charity and the works of mercy. Mercy is inclusive and tends to spread like wildfire in a way that knows no limits. Hence we are called to give new expression to the traditional works of mercy,” it continues.
“[This initiative] is a concrete and tangible sign supported by the Apostolic Charity Office: A place and a service to give concrete form to charity and at the same time intelligence to the works of mercy to restore dignity to many people,” a press release said.
Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski has been at the helm of the pope’s charitable initiatives since becoming papal almoner in 2013.
“When we help the poorest and most vulnerable, we are truly Christians, because we are the means of the Gospel,” Krajewski said.
“This initiative, which is repeated over time, is a source of joy for me because this is a further possibility of being close to wounded humanity, a way to demonstrate the presence and closeness of God to the last,” he said.