Better Angels: Taking cue from pope, Laundry Love affirms human dignity one load at a time

What likely is the world’s most famous laundromat is also relatively new.

The Lavanderia di Papa Francis — or Pope Francis Laundry — opened in the spring of last year in a former hospital near the Vatican.

It was a modest establishment when it opened:  Six washing machines and dryers, as well as an ample supply of detergent and fabric softeners.

But because of what it symbolized, the papal laundromat made news all over the world.

Use of the facility was free and, the Vatican said, designed to serve “the poorest of the poor, particularly the homeless, who will able to wash, dry and iron their clothes and blankets.”

Pope Francis’ advocacy for the world’s poor, unmoored and indigent is admired by many, both Catholic and non. Sure, cleanliness might have some approximation to godliness, but the two, at best, live in the same general area. But godliness’ real neighbor is compassion.

As it would happen, around the same time the pope was opening his laundromat, Doug and Sally Klingler were looking for a way to reach deeper into the Milwaukee community.

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