Pope donates rent for beach serving people with disabilities
VATICAN— Pope Francis has donated the rent for a private Italian beach that allows disabled people to enjoy the shore, the charity that manages the project announced this week.
The group Work of Love, a Catholic non-profit, has rented part of the Little Madonna beach located near Rome since 2012 in an effort to give disabled people better access to the beach. It is equipped with ramps, walkways and specialized beach chairs and water-friendly wheelchairs, and includes amenities such as a snack bar, changing rooms, and showers.
The beach is run by a group of volunteers and specialized FINP (Italian Swimming Federation Paralympic) staff and is open every day of the week during peak summer swimming season.
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, told CNN Pope Francis gave the group an undisclosed sum to “support the project that helps disabled youth and in particular to cover the cost of the annual rent for the beach known as the Little Madonna.”
The beach is the only one of its kind in the region, and was created to allow all people to enjoy the beach “without architectural and mental barriers,” the group states on their site.
In a statement, the charity said they received the donation with “enthusiasm and astonishment.”
It is not the first time Pope Francis has sponsored trips to the beach. Last summer, Archbishop Krajewski told Vatican Insider that the Holy Father had been treating Rome’s homeless to beach trips followed by pizza parties, sometimes with the Pope himself serving up a slice.
He said the van would take about 10 people each day to go swimming on the Italian coast, nearly 20 miles from Rome. The archbishop drove the van, while passengers sang and listened to the radio. At the beach, each guest was offered a swimsuit and towel and afterwards was treated to pizza.
“We certainly are not saving the world with some of these initiatives, we are not solving the problems of the homeless in Rome, but at least we are restoring to them a little dignity,” Archbishop Krajewski said at the time.
Other initiatives carried out by Archbishop Krajewski on behalf of the Pope include a dormitory, barber services and showers for those in need. In 2015, the Pope invited a group of homeless people in Rome to the Sistine Chapel. In 2016, he invited 2,000 homeless people and migrants to the circus. Pope Francis also sent an electronic scooter to an elderly couple with disabilities, who had difficulty getting around. He has also given Christmas gifts to poor migrants and umbrellas to the homeless.