Pope Francis expressed gratitude to The Papal Foundation for its efforts to provide aid to Ukrainians suffering amid the war in a meeting at the Vatican on Thursday.

The foundation’s executive director David Savage told CNA on April 28 that it had recently approved an initial grant of $100,000 to support the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) as it organizes new offices in Lviv, western Ukraine.

“The grant for the UGCC Patriarchal Curia will go towards maintaining Church structures and strengthening institutional capacity so it can better provide large-scale humanitarian assistance and pastoral care in Ukraine during the war,” Savage said following the meeting with the pope.

“This will include military and medical chaplaincies, social service to people in need, organizing online prayers, and supporting the Catholic Crisis Media Center, which provides the international community with the Church’s perspective on the events in Ukraine.”

UGCC leader Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has shared how Ukrainian priests and bishops remained present in combat zones to help feed and clothe people hiding in bomb shelters. The local Church has also worked to create refugee assistance centers and corridors to help people reach safety.

“It was a huge job. But such logistics centers have worked for us. I visited them and was impressed by the ingenuity of our priests and volunteers,” Shevchuk said in an interview published on April 27.

In his meeting with The Papal Foundation, the pope thanked the foundation for its ongoing charitable outreach to those on the peripheries who live in material and spiritual poverty by assisting with educational, humanitarian, and ecclesial projects.

“As we are witnessing in these days the devastating effects of war and conflict, you increasingly see the need to provide care and humanitarian assistance to its victims, to refugees, and to those forced to leave their homelands in search of a better and more secure future for themselves and their loved ones,” Pope Francis said.

“Your work helps to bring the love, hope, and mercy that the Gospel proclaims to all who benefit from your generosity and commitment. For this I thank you, and I pray that you will be renewed in your zeal to serve our Lord in serving the least of our brothers and sisters, as Jesus himself told us.”

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The philanthropic foundation, which is based in the United States, is dedicated to funding projects and initiatives selected by the pope to fulfill the needs of the Church. Its grants have provided support to Catholic churches, seminaries, convents, hospitals, and schools across 121 countries.

Savage was named the new executive director of the American foundation in Sept. 2021.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, who serves as the chairman of The Papal Foundation’s board of trustees, said in the audience with the pope that the foundation has distributed more than $200 million in grants since its establishment.

O’Malley said that the board of trustees approved $14 million in grants earlier this year, including $9 million for grants requested by the Vatican, $4 million for humanitarian aid, and $1 million for scholarships for priests, religious, and seminarians studying in Rome.

Pope Francis said: “Our time together affords me the opportunity to express my deep gratitude for the generous support you have provided both to me and to the Church in so many areas of the world.”

“As we celebrate the Lord’s victory over sin and death and his gift of new life in this holy season of Easter, it is my hope that the joy of the resurrection will always fill your hearts, and that your visit to the tombs of the apostles and martyrs will enhance your fidelity to the Lord and his Church.”