By Devin Watkins
The Papal Foundation is comprised of American Catholics who dedicate financial resources to supporting the Pope and various projects throughout the world.
Pope Francis welcomed their support on Friday, in an address to its members who are on pilgrimage to Rome.
“It is a joy for me to be with you once again and to express my gratitude for the generous support you offer to me and to the Church in so many parts of the world,” he said.
The Holy Father prayed that their pilgrimage to the tombs of the apostles and martyrs, occurring during the Easter Season, strengthen them in their “fidelity to the Lord and his Church.”
The group was accompanied to the meeting by the Chairman of The Papal Foundation, Cardinal Seán O'Malley.
Spirit of fraternity and peace
Founded in 1990, The Papal Foundation has extended over $156 million in grants and scholarships to prepare leaders for the Church and to care for vulnerable people around the world, according to their website.
Pope Francis said the Foundation has contributed greatly “to the fostering of a spirit of fraternity and peace.”
“Through your support of various educational, charitable and apostolic projects, as well as the scholarships made available to lay men and women, those living the consecrated life and priests, you give witness to the untiring efforts of the Church to promote the integral development of the human family,” he said.
Message of hope and mercy
The Foundation’s work, said Pope Francis, helps contrast violence, poverty, and indifference with “the Gospel message of hope and of mercy to all who benefit from your commitment and generosity.”
He thanked them for their support, and prayed that they be renewed in their purpose to build the Church in unity and extend her charity to those most in need.
Solidarity with Peter
“The mission of The Papal Foundation is linked in solidarity with the Successor of Peter.”
Pope Francis asked its members to pray for him and his ministry, and for the needs of the Church, the spread of the Gospel, and the conversion of hearts.
“I entrust all of you, together with your families, to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in Christ our Risen Savior.”