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Pope Benedict XVI shares meal with poor, homeless in Rome

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday had lunch with the poor and homeless at a soup kitchen in downtown Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday had lunch with the poor and homeless at a soup kitchen in downtown Rome.

The meal for those in need was organized by the Sant'Egidio Catholic community. It has taken place each year during Christmas celebrations since 1998.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church told people who he shared the meal with that he is close to them and loves them, and called on everyone to always remember those in need and help them.

This was the pope's first appearance in public after Thursday's incident when he was knocked down while walking to the altar of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican to begin the traditional Christmas Eve service.

Benedict, 82, was not hurt and continued the procession to the altar at St. Peter's Basilica. On Friday, he delivered traditional Christmas greetings and urged people worldwide to abandon violence and coexist peacefully.

His attacker, 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo, was reported as having mental problems. French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, broke his hip as he tried to stop the woman and was taken to Gemelli Hospital in Rome. The Holy See said the woman just wanted to hug Benedict.

The Vatican said Saturday it is impossible to ensure 100% security for the pope without erecting a barrier between him and believers.

Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans and some Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on December 25.

The Russian, Jerusalem, Serbian and Georgian Orthodox churches, Athos monasteries, some Catholics and some Protestants celebrate the feast on January 7 in line with the Julian calendar.

ROME, December 27 (RIA Novosti)


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