Pope suppresses Populorum Progressio Foundation, but mission continues
By Christopher Wells
In view of upcoming changes sparked by the reform of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis invited members of the Populorum Progressio Foundation, in the words of Benedict XVI, to remain faithful to the principles “that have distinguished your commitment to the dignity of every human being and the fight against poverty.”
Founded by Pope St. John Paul II in 1992, the Populorum Progressio Foundation for Latin America and the Caribbean was intended to “promote the integral development of the communities of the poorest campesinos [peasant farmers] of Latin America.” On Friday, the Holy Father suppressed the Foundation, establishing in its place the Populorum Progressio Fund.
Dreams of fraternity
Pope Francis noted that many families in Latin America and the Caribbean still live “in sub-human conditions,” and are not only exploited, but considered superfluous and discarded.
Recent ecclesial gatherings, including the Ecclesial Assembly of the Continent and the Synod on Amazonia, provided an opportunity to hear the cry of the poor and to understand the exclusion felt by indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant communities.
He recalled, too, the need for “a new dream of fraternity and social friendship that is not limited to words.”
Links with local Churches
The Holy Father noted that from its beginnings, the Foundation was financed equally by the particular Churches of the continent, and that the approval of charitable projects and distribution of funds was undertaken by individuals coming from the areas where the initiatives were realized.
However, the Pope said, in the current context, it is necessary “to promote stronger links with local Churches, in order to make integral development programmes more effective in the most neglected indigenous and Afro-descendent communities, plunged into misery and abasement.”
For this reason, Pope Francis concluded, he has called on the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM) to help the Vatican analyse the projects of the Foundation and assist in carrying them out.
While remaining an “expression of the charity of the Pope,” they will no longer be centred in the Roman Curia, although the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will continue to administer the funds that will be used for this mission.
From Foundation to Fund
Pope Francis effected the envisaged changes in a Rescript published on Friday, which suppresses the Foundation and establishes the Populorum Progressio Fund. The rescript, which enters into force on Friday with its publication in L'Osservatore Romano and the Acta Apostolice Sedis, also delegates Cardinal Michael Czerny, SJ, to issue the appropriate regulations.