(Source: CD/Vatican News)
Pope Francis has set up a 1 million euro fund for workers in Rome struggling due to the pandemic, concerned as he said he is that “this time of suffering we are living… in addition to sowing pain and worry, is seriously undermining our city’s social fabric”.
“As bishop of Rome I have decided to establish the ‘Jesus the Divine Worker Fund’ to reaffirm the dignity of work, with an initial allocation of one million euros”, the pontiff wrote in a letter to the Vicariate of Rome.
In the letter — dated 9 June and addressed to Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome — the Pope explained that the fund aims to support those who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In particular, the Pope saif it is for “those who risk being excluded from institutional protection and who need support until they can walk again unaccompanied”.
He said his thoughts go “to the great number of daily and occasional workers, to those with fixed-term contracts that have not been renewed, to those who are paid by the hour, to interns, domestic workers, small entrepreneurs, self-employed workers, especially those in sectors most affected [by the pandemic] and their related industries.”
“Many are fathers and mothers who struggle to set the table for their children and make sure they receive the bare minimum”, the Pope warned.
An ‘alliance’ for the city of Rome
“The Jesus the Divine Worker Fund” has been established “for them, and not only for them”, the Pope continued, “and all of us, beginning with the institutions, are called to contribute to it.”
The Pope went on to say that he would like to think that this could become the occasion for a real alliance for the city of Rome, in which everyone may become a protagonist in the rebirth of the community after the crisis.
“This Fund is intended to be a sign that is capable of urging all people of good will to offer a concrete gesture of inclusion, especially towards those who seek comfort, hope and recognition of their rights”, he wrote, inviting all institutions and citizens to share generously what they have in this “extraordinary and needy time.”
Pope Francis said that he appeals to “the good hearts of all Romans”, urging them to realise that this is a time in which “it is not sufficient to share only the superfluous”.
He appealed to priests “to be the first to contribute to the Fund” and to become “enthusiastic supporters of sharing” in their communities.
Praise for the work of the diocese during pandemic
The Holy Father also expressed his praise and gratitude to the diocese of Rome for the work it has been doing, especially at a time in which so many are asking for help and it seems that “the five loaves and the two fishes” are not enough.
He noted that many citizens have rolled up their sleeves to help and support the weak and that there has been an increase in donations in aid of the sick and the poor.
Pope Francis even reflected on how Romans expressed their gratitude to doctors and health workers during the lockdown by applauding, singing and playing music from their windows and their balconies, “creating communities and breaking the loneliness that undermines the hearts of so many”.
All of this shows, he said, a deep desire for community and participation and urges us to work together, united, for the common good.
“I would like to see ‘next-door-neighbour solidarity’ flourish in our city”, the Pope concluded, urging actions that recall the Sabbath Year (of the Jewish tradition) in which debts are cancelled, disputes are dropped, and compensation is asked according to the capacity of the debtor and not the market.
In return, Cardinal De Donatis expressed his deep gratitude to the Pope for the establishment of the diocesan fund, and voiced his assurances that together with the institutions – starting with the municipal and regional Authorities – “we will all respond united and committed to creating an alliance for Rome, thus becoming protagonists of the rebirth of our community after the crisis”.