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What happened when I asked the Pope to go for pizza…

Former street paper vendor Marc went to interview the Pope – and found a ‘wise, kind and humorous’ man

Street paper vendor Marc, 51, had sold Straatnieuws magazine for two years in his hometown Utrecht. Formerly homeless, he’s getting back on his feet and working two days a week at the Straatnieuws office. He got the chance to interview Pope Francis – but he wasn’t told until two days before he left for Rome who he’d be interviewing.

How did you feel when you found out you’d be interviewing the Pope? I was really quite nervous the day before but on the day itself it went just fine, it seemed so normal to be talking to him. That was really strange. That also made it an unforgettable experience.

What was it like meeting him? It was so brilliant that he made the time for me and he thanked me for making such a long journey. He thought about my questions so calmly. He took me seriously, that was really great. He is such a kind, wise but also humorous man. We had a really good laugh!

He understands what a street paper does and why. He is our friend – and you help friends

Why did he do this? Because he is very committed to poor people. His name says it all: Francis is the patron saint of the poor and less fortunate. That’s why he understands what a street paper does and why. He is our friend – and you help friends.

Why couldn’t he go and eat pizza with you? He thought it was a good idea… Absolutely. But he excused himself. He can’t set foot outside the Vatican because the people in St Peter’s Square would go crazy. He is kind of a prisoner of the Vatican. But he also sees that as a blessing from God, he gets to be the Pope. He has kept his feet on the ground and prefers a simple life. That’s why he doesn’t live in the papal palace but in a Vatican hotel. In the mornings he can have breakfast there with the staff if he wants to.

After this experience, what message would you send out to other street paper vendors? Keep doing what you’re doing and spend your hard-earned money on the good things in life. I hope that this interview will help you all to sell more papers, and hope you now know there are very powerful world leaders out there who actively support you. The interview for the street papers is not just a present – he is giving himself to you. He gave me a rosary but actually it is for all of you. And be proud of your paper!

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Interview and photographs by Frank Dries, courtesy of INSP News Service; INSP.ngo/Straatnieuws

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