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Vatican to provide free haircuts, shaves, and showers for homeless people in St Peter’s Square

BY JON STONE

The Vatican will provide free haircuts and showers for the homeless in St Peter’s Square, the Catholic Church has announced.

Facilities in the historic Rome square will open next month, Pope Francis’s charity office said.

The provision of free haircuts and shaves are a new addition to the plan to build the showers, which was announced by the Vatican last month.

The Pope’s almoner, Bishop Konrad Krajewski, made the announcement of the new haircuts in the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire yesterday.

Services are due to begin on 16 February next month in an area under the square’s colonade.

Barbers and hairdressers will be asked to volunteer their services for free on Mondays, the day of the week on which their shops are traditionally closed in Italy.

Some establishments have already donated barbers’ chairs, hair-cutting equipment, and mirrors.

The idea for the showers was conceived by the bishop last year after a homeless person said it was not difficult to find food in Rome, but that washing presented a problem.

Last year Pope Francis said concern for the poor were fundamental Christian principles. He also denied he was a communist.

If I talk about this, some will think that the Pope is communist,” he said at the time. "They don't understand that love for the poor is at the centre of the Gospel," he said. "Demanding this isn't unusual, it's the social doctrine of the church."

The previous year the Catholic spiritual leader criticised unfettered capitalism, arguing it constituted a "new tyranny".

“Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” he said in November 2013.

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