By Vatican News
"As bishop of Rome I have decided to establish the ‘Jesus the Divine Worker Fund’ to reaffirm the dignity of work, with an initial allocation of one million euros”, writes Pope Francis in a letter to the Vicariate of Rome.
In the letter — dated 9 June and addressed to Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome — the Pope explains the Fund aims to support those who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In particular, the Pope says, it is for “those who risk being excluded from institutional protection and who need support until they can walk again unaccompanied.”
He says his thoughts go “to the great number of daily and occasional workers, to those with fixed-term contracts that have not been renewed, to those who are paid by the hour, to interns, domestic workers, small entrepreneurs, self-employed workers, especially those in sectors most affected [by the pandemic] and their related industries.”
“Many are fathers and mothers who struggle to set the table for their children and make sure they receive the bare minimum,” he says.
An 'Alliance' for the city of Rome
“The Jesus the Divine Worker Fund” has been established “for them, and not only for them”, the Pope continues, “and all of us, beginning with the institutions, are called to contribute to it.”
The Pope goes on to say that he would like to think that this could become the occasion for a real alliance for the city of Rome, in which everyone may become a protagonist in the rebirth of the community after the crisis.
“This Fund is intended to be a sign that is capable of urging all people of good will to offer a concrete gesture of inclusion, especially towards those who seek comfort, hope and recognition of their rights,” he says, inviting all institutions and citizens to share generously what they have in this “extraordinary and needy time.”
Pope Francis says that he appeals to “the good hearts of all Romans,” urging them to realize that this is a time in which “it is not sufficient to share only the superfluous.”
He appeals to priests “to be the first to contribute to the Fund” and to become “enthusiastic supporters of sharing” in their communities.
Praise for the work of the Diocese during pandemic
The Holy Father also expresses his praise and gratitude to the Diocese of Rome for the work it has been doing, especially at a time, in which so many are asking for help, and it seems that “the five loaves and the two fishes” are not enough.
He notes that many citizens have rolled up their sleeves to help and support the weak and that there has been an increase in donations in aid of the sick and the poor.
Pope Francis even reflects on how Romans expressed their gratitude to doctors and health workers during the lockdown by applauding, singing and playing music from their windows and their balconies, “creating communities and breaking the loneliness that undermines the hearts of so many.”
All of this shows, he says, a deep desire for community and participation and urges us to work together, united, for the common good.
“I would like to see ‘next-door-neighbour solidarity’ flourish in our city,” the Pope concludes, with actions that recall the Sabbath Year (of the Jewish tradition) in which debts are cancelled, disputes are dropped, and compensation is asked according to the capacity of the debtor and not the market.
In return, Cardinal De Donatis expressed his deep gratitude to the Pope for the establishment of the Diocesan Fund, and voiced his assurances that together with the institutions – starting with Municipal and Regional Authorities – “we will all respond united and committed to creating an alliance for Rome, thus becoming protagonists of the rebirth of our community after the crisis.”