Pope Francis just opened a laundromat for exactly the people who need it most.



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The pope (you know, this guy, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church) is pretty busy these days.

Photo from Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

Lately, he’s been talking with international leaders, supporting indigenous people’s rights, and retrieving his hat from mischievous children. Plus there’s that whole being the head of a billion-person-strong religion thing.

In short, he’s the kind of guy who must have his entire schedule planned out to a T. Man, the guy who’s in charge of his schedule probably has a schedule.

So in the midst of all this news and noise and hustle-and-bustle, Pope Francis is opening a laundromat.

Wait, what?!

Ciro Guardaccione uses the pope’s new laundromat to wash some of his clothing. Photo from AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino.

Yup, a laundromat.

On April 11, 2017, the pope opened a new six-washer-and-dryer laundromat near the Vatican, according to the Associated Press.

Seems a little weird, right? It turns out, this is exactly the kind of gesture we’ve come to expect from Pope Francis.

The services at this laundromat are free, and the whole operation is meant to help the homeless.

Homeless people sleep under an arcade at the Vatican in 2014. Photo from Tiziana Fabi//AFP/Getty Images.

Clean laundry doesn’t seem like much — until you don’t have any.

People who are homeless already face a lot of challenges. They can have limited access to health care. Many have mental health problems or are running away from abuse.    

Clean clothes might not seem like a big deal among all this, but they matter. It’s partially about hygiene, but it’s also about what they represent. It’s dignity. It’s about something as simple as other people treating you like a human being.

That clean shirt is important. When you’ve fought to finally score a job interview, which could help pull you out of a horrible situation, only to have to cancel because you can’t get something as simple as a clean shirt — well, then laundry matters a lot.

This is why Pope Francis’ comparatively tiny gesture can make such a big, big difference.

The laundromat is just the latest of a long line of services the pope has opened for the homeless, including a barber shop, showers, and a dormitory. Say what you will about the church, but it’s hard to deny that Pope Francis really does seem to care about everyone, including our most vulnerable, marginalized neighbors. Go, pope.

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