Will Sister Mary find a friend in Francis?

Posted: March 28, 2014

VATICAN CITY - Sister Mary Scullion has spent a lifetime fighting homelessness in Philadelphia and has been recognized nationally for her work.

Now, her cause has a global champion.

"Pope Francis has breathed new life and hope and possibility into the church around the world . . . especially because of his commitment to the poor and those that are outside the margins of society," Scullion said. "I feel much more a part of the church under his leadership, to be honest."

Pope Francis invited homeless men to his 77th birthday celebration and has been rumored to sneak out of the Vatican in the middle of the night to care for the homeless.

"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?" the pope has asked.

Gov. Corbett said in interviews this week that he hopes Francis, if he comes to Philly next year for the World Meeting of Families, will meet Scullion, one of the crown jewels of the city's Catholic community.

In 2009, her work at Project HOME (Housing, Opportunities for Employment, Medical Care, Education) earned her a spot on a list of the world's 100 most influential people in Time magazine.

This year, Francis is Time's "Person of the Year."

"I love the fact that when he came in, one of the first things he says is, 'I am a sinner,' " Scullion said. "When he says a statement like that, it makes his tent very big. It includes regular human beings that are striving for a just and compassionate society."

There's been debate about whether Francis might tackle another issue that's important to Scullion: the role of women in the church.

Scullion said she remains hopeful that women will one day be able to become part of the ordained clergy.

"Women are empowered by God's grace to live full and wonderful lives," Scullion said. "It would be wonderful if the church recognized that, but that hasn't stopped women."

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN

Blog: ph.ly/PhillyClout

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