Vatican City, 14 June 2014 (VIS) – From 11 to 13 June, at the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, the managing board of the Populorum Progressio Foundation held its annual meeting. This year it was held in Rome, primarily to ask Pope Francis for guidance in planning the future of the Foundation after 22 years of work, in the light of his pastoral experience in Latin America.
Of the 135 projects presented in 2014 for the various ecclesiastical jurisdictions in Latin America and the Caribbean, 125 were approved, in conformity with the criteria of the Populorum Progressio, with a total value of 1,800,000 dollars. The majority were initiatives connected to children and young people. In this way, the Foundation will be able to support small communities in their projects for development and human advancement. They are primarily micro-projects in various fields: not only education, but also the creation of wells for drinking water, the institution of revolving funds and seed banks, the construction of community halls, the funding of healthcare projects, and so on.
On Friday Pope Francis received in audience the members of the managing board. During 40 minutes the prelates spoke with him on matters linked to the Latin American continent, taking into account the activity carried out by this Foundation. The Holy Father affirmed, first of all, that Catholic institutions are not NGOs and that they must put into action an anthropology that does not see the person solely as “a mouth to feed”, but must also take into consideration the spiritual dimension, and the yearning for God that every person holds in his heart.
Secondly, the issue of indigenous populations was discussed, and the question of evangelisation and its relationship to charitable works in the context of the works of corporal mercy that cannot be separated from spiritual works. The Holy Father also commented on the ideology centred on the “god of money”, leading to the rejection of two categories of person: children, the future of society, and the elderly, who are its historical memory. He also underlined the dramatic problem of youth unemployment, which leads generations of young people without a future, easy prey to addiction and criminality. Francis asked the Populorum Progressio to pay attention to this sector of the population through projects for education and professional training. The dialogue was frank, open and constructive.
Holding the meeting in Rome made it possible for the managing board to consult with entities such as the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, whose secretary Guzamn Carriquiry Lecour spoke upon request by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., president of the Commission, during the round table of the first day of the meeting. A very fruitful exchange took place regarding the theme of indigenism and the question of formation. It is also worth noting that the Foundation has undertaken a collaborative project with the Catholic University San Antonio de Murcia to establish training courses for agents of pastoral care, often directly responsible to the Foundation's projects in the same area.
The Foundation must face the great challenge of enlarging the geographical horizons of its donations, with the aim of ensuring that all the projects presented may be accepted by the Pope's charity. In this regard, the members of the Foundation were given the aim of increasing awareness among the particular Churches and persons of good will so that the funds available will allow this this work, so greatly appreciated by the Holy Father, to continue with ever greater intensity.