.- On Friday, Pope Benedict XVI met with members of the Papal Foundation during their annual pilgrimage to Rome. He thanked them for their contributions to the charities that he supports and reminded them that our future is in God's hands.
The occasion, which saw the attendance of approximately 120 donors, took place just after noon in the Clementine Room of the Apostolic Palace.
Noting the joy of the Easter season present at their meeting, the Holy Father recalled his words before the empty tomb of Christ on his visit to the Holy Land last May.
In rising to new life, said Pope Benedict, the Lord teaches "that evil never has the last word, that love is stronger than death, and that our future, and the future of all humanity, lies in the hands of a faithful and provident God."
He stressed that the Church is always called "to proclaim this message of hope and to confirm its truth by her practical witness of holiness and charity."
The Holy Father went on to express his appreciation to the Papal Foundation for advancing this mission through its charitable support that assists those in developing countries, educates future leaders of the Church and promotes missionary work worldwide.
The Papal Foundation supports projects based on requests of the Holy Father, including everything from the construction of religious institutions in Eastern bloc countries to food relief, education and health clinics in Africa. In addition to lay faithful, the membership of the Pennsylvania-headquartered foundation also counts 10 American cardinals.
L'Osservatore Romano reported that the total gift from the Foundation this year was $6.2 million for a total of 97 different projects. The group also provides scholarships for priests, religious and lay people attending pontifical universities or institutes.
Since 1990, the group has donated more than $60 million to charity.
Before imparting the Apostolic Blessing upon those present and their families, the Holy Father asked the donors to pray for the "the needs of the universal Church" and to "implore a renewed outpouring of the Spirit’s gifts of holiness, unity and missionary zeal upon the whole People of God."
At the end of the audience, Papal Foundation members sang "Happy Birthday" and presented the Pope with a cake. Pope Benedict also received a copy of Eric Hansen's book "Peter's Partner," which speaks of the commitment of the Foundation's creator, Cardinal John Joseph Krol, and his successor, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.