Pope Offers €1Million Work Fund for Needy People, Including Muslims10 Jun 2020
Pope Francis of the Catholic Church has announced a new work fund for those who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus lockdown in the Italian capital, Rome. The Pope said that the initiative of the Caritas Charity would include needy Muslims living in Rome, many of whom are facing homelessness as a result of coronavirus-related economic downturn.
‘Charity has no religion’
The “Work Dignity” was set up the Caritas Charity, which serves as the official relief agency of the Catholic Church, and was spearheaded by Pope Francis. The main goal of the project is to offer funding to support those who are struggling economically and do not qualify for Italian government help. The organisation said that part of the funds will include needy Muslims living in Rome who have lost livelihoods due to the coronavirus and do not qualify for government assistance, as many of them do not have permanent jobs. According to Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of the Rome diocese, the Pope emphasized the importance of helping people regardless of their religion.
“Charity has no religion. It is just charity. With the pope’s fund we will try to help them, too. Muslims have been helping needy Christians all over Italy during Ramadan without asking about their religion,” said Reverend Pasquale Marano, a priest who runs a soup kitchen in Rome.
He added that the number of homeless people visiting the city’s soup kitchens have been rising ever since the lockdown started. Many of them are newcomers from Morocco, Tunisia, Bangladesh and Pakistan who had come to work as waiters or kitchen staff, sectors that have been highly impacted by the outbreak. Vatican officials said that business has been slow for the restaurants that have reopened, discouraging them from hiring.
The program is “a concrete gesture of inclusion”
Vatican officials added that the majority of those who came seeking help from the fund include daily and part-time workers, interns, small business owners and the self-employed. They added that the only requisite is being poor and in hardship because of the pandemic.
During the announcement of the €1 Million Fund, Pope Francis called on the “good hearts among all Romans” to contribute to the fund which, he said, is “a concrete gesture of inclusion, especially toward those who seek comfort, hope and recognition of their rights.”
For much of the coronavirus outbreak, Italy was the hardest-hit country in Europe and has remained under lockdown the longest. Like much of Europe, the country is attempting to return to a normal life. However, the economic cost of the outbreak remains severe.