Cardinal restores power to hundreds of residents in occupied Rome building

Cardinal restores power to hundreds of residents in occupied Rome building”

It now houses more than 400 people, including almost 100 children.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski at the weekend climbed down a manhole and turned on a switch that restored electricity to the building, saying he could no longer stand by while people suffered.

The building's power was cut by the electricity supplier May 6 because it had accumulated a debt of some 300,000 euro ($337,000).

"I intervened personally last night to reattach the meters. It was a particularly desperate situation", Cardinal Krajewski, the Pope's alms-giver, told Corriere della Sera. It was a gesture of desperation.

The question people should be asking, he said, is not who will pay the electric bill, but why there are more than 400 people, including small children, living like that.

Cardinal Krajewski hit headlines in February when he advised the Pope to open a barber shop for homeless people in St Peter's Square.

"I didn't do it because I was drunk", he reportedly added.

Matteo Salvini, Italy's populist deputy prime minister, has said he now expects the papal aide to pay the overdue utility bills, according to the Italian daily La Repubblica.

In addition to housing homeless families, the building contains a multi-purpose cultural centre providing workshops in music, theatre and carpentry, as well as hosting a craft beer laboratory and offering a safe space "open to all, in particular the youth and the needy".

Pope Francis has transformed Krajewski's centuries-old job - that of Vatican almoner - into a hands-on, door-to-door charitable mission.

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