Foundation’s COVID-19 Grants Will Fund Medicine, Food in Developing Countries

People in Laudium, South Africa, stand in line to receive food aid May 20, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: CNS/Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters)

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — The Papal Foundation has announced it will give $1.8 million in grants to support COVID-19 relief efforts in developing nations around the world, with the majority of the funds assisting with health care and basic needs for the poor.

“Pope Francis has asked us to make grants to help the poorest of the poor in countries around the world, who are in particularly desperate circumstances due to the impact of the pandemic,” said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees. “People’s basic needs of food, health care and hygiene are not being met because of COVID-19.”

A Dec. 16 news release from the foundation’s Philadelphia office said dioceses in 16 countries will receive funds to buy medicine, food, hygiene kits and health care equipment to support families, orphans, malnourished children, the elderly and chronically ill.

Grants are being made in: Argentina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cuba Ecuador, Guinea, Bissau, Haiti, Iraq, Malawi, Mexico, South Africa, Syria, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“We are blessed to be able to fulfill the Holy See’s request to assist in the midst of this crisis, to literally save lives, and share Christ’s love around the world,” Cardinal O’Malley said in statement.

The Papal Foundation’s major donors are called Stewards of St. Peter. Its funds are managed by the board of trustees, comprised of six American cardinals who reside in the United States and serve as ex-officio members, two lay trustees who also serve as ex-officio members, three archbishops and two bishops, and 21 elected laypeople from across the country.

“Throughout this worldwide pandemic, the virus has been even more devastating for the poor in countries around the globe,” said Eustace Mita, president of the foundation’s board.

“We are extremely grateful to all of the Stewards of St. Peter whose gifts made these grants possible,” he added. “Their willingness follow Christ’s teachings and support the Holy Father and his witness in the world are awe-inspiring.”

The grant funding process begins with requests made to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State through apostolic nuncios and local bishops worldwide. Once these are processed and reviewed, the pope requests funding for grants from the foundation.

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