Francis began it in June 2020 with 1M euro. Communities joined in with donations, work possibilities, training, companionship.
The pandemic has left many “fathers and mothers who struggle to set the table for their children,”Pope Francis lamented last year in June. “The Jesus the Divine Worker Fund” has been established “for them, and not only for them,” he said, referring to his decision “as bishop of Rome … to establish the ‘Jesus the Divine Worker Fund’ to reaffirm the dignity of work.”
A little over a year later, some 2,500 people have been helped, according to representatives of the Local Caritas and the Diocese of Rome at a press conference on August 3.
The fund was part of the “Alliance for Rome” project and has been administered by the Diocese and Caritas Rome in collaboration with city hall and the local government of the Lazio region.
When it was created, Pope Francis began the fund with 1 million euros, followed by the town hall of Rome and the Lazio region for 500,000 euros each. Individuals and companies donated another 200,000 euros.
“The communities became aware of what was happening and, by meeting with individuals and families, they offered not only financial resources or work possibilities, but also companionship, relationships, and accompaniment,” said Mgr Benoni Ambarus, auxiliary bishop of Rome and director of the diocesan Caritas.
Contributions from the fund have supported people who were left economically vulnerable due to the pandemic, for example by helping to pay expenses or by offering training courses or by organizing entrepreneurship projects with partners. During the press conference, the representatives also underlined the importance of proximity and emotional support.
“God is so close to us that he mixes his history with ours, that he risks and shares his life with that of his people and of every human being,” said Bishop Giampiero Palmieri, vice-manager of the Diocese of Rome. “And that is why we can only live in the same way with the men and women we meet, especially the most fragile,” he concluded.
Also present at the conference were the mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, and the president of the Lazio region, Nicola Zingaretti.