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Pope expands Papal Foundation focus to war victims, refugees


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 04/28/22

The American charity is now led by laity, distanced from legacy of McCarrick and Bransfield.

Pope Francis expressed his contentedness with being able to meet in person with members of the Papal Foundation, an American charity made up of influential donors. The foundation funds many of the Pope’s charity projects around the world.

Since its creation in 1988, the Foundation has made it possible to allocate more than $200 million to some 2,000 charitable or spiritual projects – including monasteries, schools, hospitals – selected by successive popes.

The members of the foundation represent influential donors: their membership begins with a minimum of a $1 million contribution.

More secure future

Pope Francis noted how the work of the Foundation has often supported “educational, charitable and ecclesial projects” thereby helping the Church’s “ongoing efforts to build a culture of solidarity and peace.”

“In this regard,” he told them, “your charitable outreach continues to extend to those on the peripheries of society who live in material, and frequently spiritual, poverty.”

The Holy Father added, however, that as we see the “devastating effects of war and conflict” the foundation sees an increasing need to “provide care and humanitarian assistance to [war’s] victims, to refugees, and to those forced to leave their homelands in search of a better and more secure future for themselves and their loved ones.”

Your work helps to bring the love, hope, and mercy that the Gospel proclaims to all who benefit from your generosity and commitment. For this I thank you, and I pray that you will be renewed in your zeal to serve our Lord in serving the least of our brothers and sisters, as Jesus himself told us (cf. Mt 25:40).

Lay leadership

In early 2020, Eustace Mita was named the first lay President of the organization founded in 1988 as a collaboration of laity and clergy within the Church. While this was hailed as part of Vatican II’s call to foster lay leadership in the Church, it also responded to the fact that the previous two presidents were prelates embroiled in crime and scandal: former Bishop Michael Bransfield and former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

“We cannot speak for any other organizations in which they were involved. But certainly with the Papal Foundation, there was no wrongdoing on their part,” said Mita, at the time of his appointment, explaining that for the Papal Foundation, neither Bransfield nor McCarrick “had the authority to sign checks.”

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