By Deborah Castellano Lubov

To help those hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis has launched the ‘Gesu Divino Lavoratore’ fund, donating one million euro to Caritas Roma.

The Pope communicated this initiative in a letter to the Vicar General of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, which was published by the Vicariate today.

In the letter the Pontiff acknowledges the pain and strain the epidemic has caused, but also how touched he has been by the kindness, charity and encouragement given at this time toward others, including the vulnerable, poor, and healthcare workers.

He also recognizes the daily difficulties of so many at this time, including the numerous individuals who are mothers and fathers and who struggle to make ends meat and have enough to feed their families.

Here is a full ZENIT translation of the Pope’s letter to Cardinal De Donatis.

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D.S.M. June 8, 2020

To His Most Reverend Eminence

The Lord Cardinal Angelo de Donatis

Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome

Dear Brother,

This time of suffering we are living because of the pandemic, in addition to sowing pain and worry, is seriously undermining our city’s social fabric.

We see that many people are asking for help, and it seems that “the five loaves and two fishes” aren’t sufficient. Yet, I cannot but note with joy the signs of vitality of our Church of Rome and of the whole city. It is demonstrated by the great number of people that in these days have rolled up their sleeves to help and support the weak, as well as the increase of donations to all those that work for the sick and for the poor, and the different manifestations that have seen Romans appear at windows and balconies to applaud the doctors and health workers, to sing and play, creating community and breaking the loneliness that undermines the heart of many of us.

It’s not about extemporaneous manifestations and attitudes solely the fruit of emotions: Roman citizens have a desire for community and for participation and ask us to work together, united, for the common good.

The institutions and all those that represent the civil society and the world of work are called to listen to this request and to transform it into concrete policies and actions for the good of the city.

I hope that the taking up of normality in Rome will begin in fact from a work that sees us united first of all in addressing the sufferings of those that are most marginalized. The Church in our city is present and accompanies the weak with her charity, and she is ready to collaborate with city institutions and with all the social and economic realities.

I have very much at heart the protection of the dignity of persons that have been more harshly affected by the effects of this pandemic, especially those that risk remaining excluded from institutional protection and that are in need of a support that will accompany them, so that they can walk autonomously again. My thought goes also to the great host of daily and occasional workers, to those with non-renewable term contracts, to those paid by the hour, to the interns, to domestic workers, to small entrepreneurs, to autonomous workers, especially those of the most affected sectors and of their industries. Many are fathers and mothers of families that struggle with difficulty to lay the table for their children and to guarantee the minimum necessary to them.

As Bishop of Rome I have decided to institute in the Diocese the “Jesus Divine Worker” Fund,” to recall the dignity of work, with an initial appropriation of 1 million euros to our diocesan Caritas.

I like to think that it can become the occasion of a true and proper alliance for Rome, in which each one, for his part, feels himself a protagonist of the rebirth of our community after the crisis.

I would like this Fund to be a sign capable of soliciting all persons of good will to make a concrete gesture of inclusion especially towards those that seek comfort, hope and recognition of their rights.

Hence I invite all institutions and our fellow-citizens to share generously what they have available in this very extraordinary time full of needs. I address the good heart of all Romans, exhorting them to consider that at this moment its not enough to share the superfluous.

I would like to see “next door” solidarity flower in our city, actions that recall the attitudes of the sabbatical year, in which debts are condoned, disputes are made to fall, payments are requested according to the capacity of the debtor and not of the market.

I invite the priests of our Diocese to be the first to contribute to the Fund, and the enthusiastic supporters of sharing in our communities. May the grace of breaking the bread of the Eucharist every day push us to “do as much” with our brothers and sisters.

May the Lord bless our diocesan community and the entire city. I invoke upon all His strength and consolation and the protection of Mary Salus Populi Romani.

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