Pope Francis has given Christmas presents to 2000 immigrants at a shelter near the Vatican.
The Pope had gift packages delivered to the Dono di Maria homeless shelter in Rome, founded by Mother Teresa 25 years ago.
Each gift package contained a Christmas card signed by Pope Francis, postal stamps, a pre-paid international calling card and a free day-pass for the metro in Rome. The packages were sent to allow them to write letters and call their loved ones overseas during the holiday.
The presents were distributed by Papal almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski and sisters at the shelter.
“The guests were very happy,” said Sister Michelle, the superior of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Rome.
Sister Michelle told the Catholic News Agency the recipients “received the presents with love and were thankful for the opportunity to call and write to their loved ones during the Christmas season”.
“The Pope is very familiar with our work here and understands the realities that people face,” she added.
The pontiff has been vocal on defending the rights of immigrants and called upon the world to “eliminate prejudices and presuppositions” surrounding migration in July.
On the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in September, he said: “Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity.
“They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.
“A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization - all typical of a throwaway culture - towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”
He also advocated using abandoned churches to house asylum seekers.
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