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Pope to Papal Foundation: Financial scandals damage Church charity work

Pope Francis meets with a delegation of the Papal Foundation as it concludes its annual pilgrimage to Rome, and commends its generous contribution to the Holy See’ charitable work and its transparent financial management of funds.

By Lisa Zengarini

Pope Francis praised members of the U.S.-based Papal Foundation for assisting  the Bishop of Rome in fulfilling  his mission, noting that , through their generous support to Catholic charity projectsthroughout the world and the transparent management of funds, they offer a “visible sign of unity” with the Successor of Peter.

Providing funding for Catholic charitable projects around the world

For 35 years the Foundation, which was founded in 1988 in response to a wish expressed by St. John Paul II, provides funding for Catholic projects  worlwide specifically identified and requested by the Pope.

Every year a delegation of members, trustees and stewards travels to Rome to share with the Holy Father the chosen projects and renew its commitment to supporting his desired charitable efforts.

Fostering unity over divisions

Welcoming some a 150-member-strong delegation in the Vatican on Friday, Pope Francis highlighted two aspects of the Foundations’ cooperation in the mission of the Pope. 

The first aspect is fostering unity.  “Sadly,” he noted, “we see also in our own day how the unity of the Church is wounded by division” often caused by the “influence of ideologies and movements that while at times well intentioned, end up fomenting parties and cliques”.

 “This is further compounded by the application of secular terminology, especially from the political realm, when speaking of the Church and the faith itself”, he lamented  

“Saint Paul warned the early Church about instruments of division that speak superficially or reject outright the nature of the Church as unity in diversity, as unity without uniformity. And the One who creates this unity without uniformity, the only one capable of doing it is the Holy Spirit.”

Instead, “motivated by sincere faith and heartfelt desire to help others”, the members of the Papal Foundation rise above these “partisan divisions” and foster unity “through the generous funding each year of numerous projects and scholarships that provide vital assistance, without prejudice or discrimination, to our brothers and sisters throughout the world”. 

Financial transparency

The second aspect highlighted by Pope Francis is transparency which, he said, is especially important for  the Holy See’s service of charity that relies on the good will and generosity of so many people around the world.

“While not comparable to the immense harm resulting from the failure to protect the most vulnerable from various forms of abuse, financial scandals caused by a lack of oversight and transparency also damage the good name of the Church and can call into question the credibility of the faith itself.”

In this regard, the Pope commended the Papal Foundation for its ongoing commitment to maintain “appropriate measures of transparency” so that the funding of scholarships and projects “truly benefits those in need and contributes to the building up of the Kingdom of God on earth”.

Concluding, Pope Francis reiterated his gratitude for the Foundation’s efforts, while praying that that it’s members may be renewed in their “zeal to assist the charitable work of the Bishop of Rome, which presides in love over the entire Church”.

200 million USD  allocated in 35 years

Since its inception in 1988, the Papa Foundation has allocated 200 million USD  in grants and scholarships around the world to more than 2,000 projects selected by Popes Francis and Benedict, and Saint John Paul II.

According to its website, it has helped finance the construction of 358 churches and chapels, 170 seminaries, 404 rectories and convents, 273 schools, and 104 hospitals.

In 2023 the Foundation plans to give the Holy See 9.5 million USD to fund 114 grants in 57 countries. It will also provide approximately 4.8 million USD in scholarships and humanitarian aid.

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