The Vatican is getting into the hairdressing business, it seems, according to recent reports: it will provide a free hair-cutting service for the homeless of Rome. Very good. That will go well with the showers that are being installed near St Peter's Square. However, I think we can do better than that.
I was talking with a friend of mine who also studied in Rome and he told me that the Holy See owns a lot of apartments around the city which are standing empty. Meanwhile she has some large buildings in which members of the Curia live - Domus Sancta Martha being one, but I believe there is another one down towards the end of the Via di Conciliazione which is mostly empty. My friend suggested that it might be good idea if the priests in the Curia would be allowed move into the apartments, and then take one of the large buildings and turn it into a house for the homeless? That house would be on Vatican territory, so the Holy See would not be hampered by unwieldy Italian/EU legislation etc. There are plenty of priests and religious in the city who could assist in running it and the Holy Father could pop down now and again to offer Mass there.
The house could also serve as a drop-in centre for those homeless who prefer to live on the streets. Basic medical care could be provided, as well as the showers and the hair-dressing service. Now I know the Church has countless houses and support agencies for the homeless in Rome and around the world and many dining rooms and drop-in centres, but what a wonderful symbol this house would be - in the heart of the Church, on Vatican territory, and a marvellous legacy from a Pope whose first concern in his Pontificate has been the poor. To be honest, while they are nice gestures, the showers and now the hair cuts seem paltry in comparison with what could be done.
Just an idea.