The Pope's $250,000 donation for the reconstruction of a Haitian school is to be delivered today. The large monetary gift constitutes just a small part of the aid the Holy Father distributes every year to those in need.
Members of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum arrive in Haiti on Thursday to deliver a $250,000 gift on behalf of the Pope towards the reconstruction of a school in the capital of Port-au-Prince.
Vatican Radio reported that the gift "isn't just about an economic contribution, but most of all (it is) a gesture of closeness from Benedict XVI towards the victims of the earthquake, who still suffer much."
The Holy See's radio station explained that Pope Benedict "can carry out this gesture of charity and closeness to the victims of natural disasters, conflicts, poverty and hunger thanks to the donations of the Catholics of the world, that then are distributed by the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' based on the indications received from the Pope."
The donation to Haiti comes as the council's Popolorum Progressio Foundation begins its yearly meeting, this year in the Dominican Republic, to decide on which projects they will be able to finance. Last year they were able to sponsor 193 projects, and at this week's meeting they will decide which proposals to finance from a pool of 230.
In 2009, the Pope sent out $1.9 million to 25 countries for emergency relief alone. The most recent donation made public by "Cor Unum" was a gift to flood victims and evacuees in Poland in May.
Donations to the tune of $2.3 million were also given out in 2009 for projects promoting "integral human development."
Between these and other projects managed by "Cor Unum" through the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, Popolorum Progressio and other channels, the Holy Father's yearly public donations reported by the council approach $10 million. In the Jubilee Year in 2000, however, contributions reached immense levels through a special initiative that involved partnerships with dioceses from around the world.
That year donations rang up to a total of almost $20 million.
Vatican Radio highilighted that "anyone can collaborate directly with the charity of the Pope" by visiting the Vatican's www.vatican.va website, clicking on the "Roman Curia" icon and entering the Pontifical Councils section where "Cor Unum" is found.