Pope Francis makes an unscheduled visit to our Home in Washington
"When you spoil the elderly, you are spoiling Jesus" (Pope Francis)
On Friday, 25th September, POPE FRANCIS spoke the above words when he made an unannounced visit to our Home in Washington where he met with about 45 sisters
Sister Constance Veit, communications director for the Little Sisters in USA, said the pope talked individually with each sister, ranging in age from novices to 102-year-old Sister Marie Mathilde, who is Colombian and spoke to the Pope in Spanish.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters in Washington that evening that the papal visit was intended as a sign of support for the Little Sisters' lawsuit against the Obama administration's mandate that all employers offer contraceptive coverage in their health plans or participate in a religious "accommodation" that the sisters have refused.
But Sister Constance said Pope Francis made no mention of the lawsuit during his visit. Rather, his message to the group was about the Little Sisters' "mission to the elderly" and "how important it is in a society that tends to marginalize the elderly and the poor," she told Catholic News Service.
"We were deeply moved by his encouraging words," she added.
The Little Sisters did not know about the visit until after the pope's morning meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama, Sister Constance said. Three Little Sisters of the Poor, including Sister Constance, had been invited to attend the ceremony on the South Lawn.
Sister Maria del Monte Auxiliadora, the mother general, was told after the ceremony that Pope Francis wanted to make a five-minute visit to the Jeanne Jugan Residence, located across the street from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and not too far from the St. John Paul II Seminary.