During the coronavirus pandemic, the Church “is now learning the Gospel from laity”, the papal almoner, or charity head, has said.

Talking to Crux last week, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski pointed to the doctors and nurses, volunteers and countless laypeople organising charity drives for COVID-19 patients and their families as concrete embodiments of the Christian message during the pandemic.

In fact, that selfless dedication of healthcare professionals and Catholics in the pews is one of the reasons why Krajewski asked 250 top Vatican cardinals, bishops, religious superiors and priests to donate their salaries to help fight the epidemic and its economic effects.

“Alms need to hurt”, the Polish cardinal told Crux.

“We’re not asking [officials] to give away part of the salary; it’s not ‘whatever I can offer after paying the bills’.

“It is the entire income for the month [April] we are asking bishops and cardinals in the Vatican to donate to the Papal Fund – we need to be aware that alms hurt, and to give a lot, not just something”.

Krajewski further explained that “also, Vatican officials should somehow participate in the pain that so many families feel these days losing loved ones”.

“Some doctors haven’t seen their families for months now. They love their families so much they don’t even come home, so they don’t put their family at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

“Most churchmen working for the Vatican are using home offices and don’t suffer at all. Giving alms is the least they can do to connect to those doctors and families on the frontlines”.

The members of the Roman Curia Krajewski has pushed to donate earn on average around 2,750 euros a month.

That could mean the papal almoner’s donation drive could raise almost 700,000 euros.

Although Krajewski explained to Crux that the Pope himself will determine the end to which the donations are put, it could be that the money goes to initiatives like the one the cardinal carried out last week among homeless people at Rome’s Termini train station.

On April 16, in the late afternoon, Krajewski brought the “Pope’s caress” to those without their own place to shelter from the coronavirus.

“Everyone was waiting for us on Marsala street at the post office”, Daniele, one of the volunteers who accompanied the cardinal, told Vatican News.

Krajewski’s excursion was the latest “caress of solidarity” from Pope Francis to those who don’t have a home in which to take refuge from the pandemic.

“They greeted us and thanked us for the packages we delivered to them”, said Daniele. “Some sleeping bags, some food, soap and protective masks that they weren’t expecting”.

“But as always … we were the ones who received the most”, he added.

(With reporting by Vatican News)

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.