"In Africa alone, there are over 74,000 religious sisters and over 46,000 priests operating 7,274 hospitals and clinics, 2,346 homes for elderly and the vulnerable, and educating over 19 million children in 45,088 primary schools. In many rural areas they are the only providers of healthcare and education."
The new fund will be based at the Pontifical Mission Societies, a worldwide group of missionary societies under the pope's jurisdiction. The pope channels support to more than 1,000 dioceses, mainly in Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Amazon, through the group.
Archbishop Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, president of the Pontifical Mission Societies, said the pope had established the fund to support the Church in mission territories as it responds to the coronavirus crisis.
"Through the Church's activity of preaching the Gospel and of practical aid through our vast network, we can show that no one is alone in this crisis," he said.
Individuals can make donations to the fund via the administration office of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Rome.
As of April 6, more than 70,000 people had died from coronavirus and more than 1.2 million tested positive for the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.