Pope Francis has donated 10,000 euros to help families threatened by unemployment in Italy.

– Workers in limbo facing end to government subsidy

The news of the pontiff’s donation came from Father Alberto Conti, the director of Caritas in the diocese of Trivento, who on September 15 met with the Pope in an hour-long audience in Francis’ residence, the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.

Along with giving the pontiff some local sweets that Caritas Trivento produces to support the unemployed, Conti also told Francis of the plight of struggling local poultry workers.

Those workers in Bojano, in the Campobasso province in the south-central region of tItaly, recently approached local and diocesan Caritas lamenting that the government subsidy they have been receiving will run out November 4, leaving them unemployed if no other solution is found.

As Conti recounted in the local Il Quotidiano del Molise newspaper, “The Holy Father asked me: ‘Do you have any way to help them?’ I replied: ‘Holy Father, there are 273 families and they ask first of all for the right to work. But we will do what we can to stay close to them’”. 

“The pope got up and went out of the small room where we were. He returned after a few minutes and behind him came his young secretary, who handed him an envelope that he placed in my hands. I immediately grasped that it was an offering, and I must therefore have seemed embarrassed, because, with great simplicity, he encouraged me, exhorting me: ‘Take it, take it’”, the priest continued.

“When I got out in the car, I opened the envelope and discovered that the Holy Father had wanted to donate 10,000 euros to those workers in difficulty I had just told him about”.

– Money to go to children of workers, since education is “the only weapon of peace that the most needy possess to improve their conditions”

Priest Conti also wrote that during his audience, he presented Francis with a copy of the book Come in cielo così in terra (“On earth as it is in heaven”), a volume in which Conti, interviewed by journalist Tarcisio Tarquini, tells the story of the 30 years of Caritas Trivento – Italy’s smallest, in a mountainous and depopulated region of the country – and the 25 years of a local Catholic academy for social and political engagement.

With his gesture of the 10,000 euro donation to the workers the pope “wanted to show us how this sentence [“On earth as it is in heaven”] is full of truth, to remind us once again that Jesus taught us to unite heaven to earth and earth to heaven. Contemplation and struggle, prayer in the concreteness of life”, Conti wrote.

The priest added that the pope’s donation reminded him of words the pontiff pronounced on International Workers’ Day on May 1 this year, when the pontiff prayed in his daily Mass in Santa Marta “for all workers, so that no one might be without work and all might be paid a just wage. May they benefit from the dignity of work and the beauty of rest”.

Conti said that in consultation with Bishop Claudio Palumbo the Trivento diocesan Caritas had decided to use the pope’s donation to buy educational material for the children of the workers whose jobs are under threat, “because we are convinced that culture, education [and the] training of young people, which in difficult times are always the first things to be given up, must instead be defended”.

Culture and education “represent the only weapon of peace that the most needy possess to improve their conditions, to grow as people, to help the development of the region and therefore the good of all”, Conti concluded.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.