03/17/2015 10:09 EDT | Updated 05/17/2015 05:12 EDT

Pope Francis Invited To 'Break Bread' With People From Vancouver's Poorest Area

"Your presence and message will bring a spotlight internationally to (our) concerns."

VINCENZO PINTO via Getty Images
Pope Francis greets the crowds as arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square on March 11, 2015 at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

VANCOUVER - A coalition of multi-faith groups has invited Pope Francis to "break bread" with residents of British Columbia's most impoverished neighbourhood.

Eight advocacy groups, including the United Church of Canada, wrote to the Vatican requesting the pope walk through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside when he is next in North America.

The letter also asks the pope to visit two First Nations reserves and celebrate mass from a barge in English Bay, surrounded by indigenous canoes.

The groups represent Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Aboriginal people.

"We all value your spiritual leadership to the marginalized," said the letter, dated Feb. 19.

The groups say that although Vancouver is a beautiful city with much wealth, its urban core is home to growing numbers of people who are homeless and have mental disabilities.

"Our governments, churches and social agencies have not struggled hard enough to find solutions," said the letter.

The groups say an ideal time for Pope Francis to visit would be between May and September.

"Your presence and message will bring a spotlight internationally to (our) concerns."


Photo gallery Photography of Vancouver's Donovan Mahoney See Gallery