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What’s an “almoner”? Read about a Vatican job with close ties to deacons

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 08/06/13

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An interesting profile of a job many may not know about, from Vatican Insider:

Francis, the Pope of the Poor, last week continued his outreach to the poor and needy by appointing a humble Polish priest, Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, as his almoner, that is the one who will give alms or charity to the poor in his name. Though his nomination has gone largely unnoticed, it is not a simple bureaucratic appointment. Pope Francis has specifically chosen Mgr. Konrad for this post to which he gives some considerable importance. He chose him because he had come to know, what was already well known throughout the Roman Curia, that for some years now this good priest from Lodz in Poland used to regularly distribute food to the poor and needy on the streets in the area around the Vatican. At the time of his appointment, Mgr. Konrad was one of the papal masters of ceremonies (‘ceremoniere’). He studied in Rome in the 1990s and, not long afterwards, was called to work in the Vatican of Pope John Paul II, in the office for Papal Ceremonies then headed by Mgr. Piero Marini. He retained that post under Benedict XVI and Francis, until his recent promotion. Mgr. Konrad provided some interesting background to his nomination in an interview with the Polish Catholic daily paper, Nasz Dziennik, August 4. He revealed that on the flight to the World Youth Day in Rio with Pope Francis he kept thinking all the time about this appointment. It seems that Francis had informed him of his decision before they left Rome. The Polish prelate said he had been “inspired by Mother Teresa”, at whose beatification he had assisted, to begin this work of feeding the poor and needy. He did not do this alone; he did so with the Albertine Sisters, who work with the Swiss Guards, and with the Presentation Sisters who work in the Vatican’s warehouse. “We collect the food that is left over from the canteen or dining hall of the Swiss Guards (more than 100 guards) and the food that is left over from the Pope’s table, and take it to the poor and needy on the streets adjacent to the Vatican”, he said. “We are not social workers. They are better than us at this, they are professionals”, he stated. “We do this in order to touch Christ, who is on the street”. He recalled that “Mother Teresa had said he who touches the needy touches Christ”. Pope Francis says this too.

And there’s this:

The position of almoner emerged over the centuries.  It is based on a tradition of giving charity to those in need which goes right back to the earliest centuries of the Church. Originally, it was one of the immediate responsibilities of the Deacons in the Church. Later on, responsibility for the Pope’s charities came to be exercised by one or more members of the papal household, but with no particular hierarchical dignity – that came later.

Read the rest. 

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