(Source: Novena/Alessandro de Carolis, Vatican News)

Another servant of the most disadvantaged, one who “burned his life up with the poor”. Father Júlio Renato Lancellotti, a priest who has devoted 30 years of his life to tending to the least in Brazil, is the missionary the Pope referred to during his Sunday Angelus.

Pope Francis said he was able to speak to him on the phone after having received his letter at the end of September.

COVID and violated dignity

Father Júlio’s short letter to the Pope brings to light the daily misery that the priest shares with the people who live on the streets of São Paulo. A scene that has been harshly complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and which, thrown in with the endemic poverty that afflicts these people, has created an unimaginable and even unprecedented violation of human dignity.

Father Júlio has seen so much of this, and yet he told the Pope how surprised he is to see how a serious health crisis has become the prelude to an even greater number of attacks on the value of life in Brazil.

Unequal struggle

The letter that arrived on Pope Francis’ table is accompanied by photos that show the truth of the missionary’s words.

The challenge of a small parish against a great global virus; the struggle of a haven for the poor that tries to offer the bare minumum in order to protect health, even in situations where social distancing is practically impossible, and where there is a lack of food, showers and sinks.

And yet, Father Júlio affirms that these are people he will not abandon.

“This is the messenger of God”

The letter Father sent to Pope Francis concluded with a request for a blessing that the missionary would have liked to receive in person, though he admitted himself that this would be impossible, as he would be unable to physically undertake the journey to Rome.

The story of an old man who, the Pope told the faithful gathered for his Sunday Angelus, lives “old age in peace”.

“This is our Mother Church, this is the messenger of God who goes to the crossroads”, Francis affirmed.

“Even those on the margins, even those who are rejected and scorned by society, are considered by God to be worthy of his love. He prepares his banquet for everyone: the just and sinners, good and bad, intelligent and uneducated”, the Pope continued.

More stories on the priesthood, on Novena:

Cardinal Krajewski lauds murdered Italian priest dedicated to marginalised: “This path is the true Gospel in action”

Pope thanks elderly, sick priests for “silent proclamation of the gospel of life”

Francis praises as martyr of charity murdered Italian street priest known for devotion to least

German priest advocate for migrant workers declares: “As a Church we have to stand up for those with no lobby”