Rome: Cardinal climbs down manhole to restore power to poor families

Cardinal Krajewski

Cardinal Krajewski

Source: Vatican Media/CS/CNN

Papal charities chief Cardinal Konrad Krajewski climbed down a manhole on Saturday and broke a police seal in order to restore electricity to more than a hundred poor families with children, living in an abandoned building, CNN reports.

The Papal Almoner said it was a "desperate and humanitarian gesture to help families struggling to survive."

Having just returned from a solidarity visit to refugees on the island of Lesbos, Cardinal Konrad was informed of the serious situation in which more than 400 people including more than 100 children, had been surviving in the building, without electricity and hot water for days. These services had been suspended by the energy company because the bills hadn't been paid. Altogether 300,000 Euros was owed. The Cardinal said he felt obliged to carry out a humanitarian gesture and so personally proceeded to reactivate the electricity supply to the building.

Vatican Media said: "The cardinal made this gesture aware of the possible consequences it may face, in the belief that it was necessary to do so for the sake of these families."

"I intervened personally" he told ANSA news agency "to reattach the meters. It was a desperate gesture. There were over 400 people without electricity, with families, children, without even the possibility of operating refrigerators."

In an interview with Corriere della Sera, the Cardinal said he had known for a long time about the great difficulties of the people living in that building. "From the Vatican we sent the ambulance, the doctors, the food. We are talking about human lives " he said.

"The absurd thing" the apostolic almoner emphasized to the Italian newspaper " is that we are in the heart of Rome. Nearly 500 people left to themselves. They are families who have no place to go, people who struggle to survive."

Cardinal Konrad said he assumes all responsibility for his action: "Should it arrive, I will also pay the fine."

A spokeswoman for the Citizen's Advice Bureau told ICN: "I can't comment on the situation in Rome, but here in England it should be possible for people with limited means who are elderly, disabled or have young children to get support with essential bills like electricity. In the winter time especially, power companies say they are reluctant to cut vulnerable people off. I hope these families now get the help they need."

Tags: Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, Homeless,

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