Vatican City, 30 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the concert organised to support the Pope's charitable work, which will take place on 14 May, solemnity of the Ascension, at 6 p.m. in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall. The concert, to be conducted by Maestro Daniel Oren and performed by the Philarmonic Orchestra of Salerno, Italy and the choir of the diocese of Rome led by Msgr. Marco Frisina, is sponsored by the Papal Almoner, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, and the St. Matthew Foundation, in memory of Cardinal Van-Thuan, and unites culture with charitable concerns. For the occasion, the donations gathered will be entirely devolved to the office of the Apostolic Almoner, the dicastery responsible for the Pope's charity.
The protagonists of the event are the most needy, the poor and sick, who will occupy the front rows and have been invited through charitable and voluntary associations: the Great Priory of Rome and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Circle of St. Peter, diocesan Caritas, the Sant'Egidio Community and the Centro Astalli, which assists migrants and refugees, the Daughters of Charity and other associations present in the diocese of Rome. The event will also be attended by detainees from the Rebibbia prison and various inhabitants of camps for nomadic peoples. Elderly people, families and young people from the Roman parishes have also been invited, especially those from the quarters afflicted by material and spiritual difficulties.
An invitation is required to attend the concert. These are entirely free and may be obtained online before 8 May by compiling the form on the website of the Choir of the Diocese of Rome, at http://www.corodiocesidiroma.com/concerto-aula-paolo-vi.html.
During the press conference, Msgr. Diego Ravelli, head of the office of the Apostolic Almoner, explained that this will be a concert not only “with” the poor but rather “for” the poor, as the donations made by the sponsors and all those who wish to offer an economic contribution will be destined for Pope Francis' charitable works. This task is entrusted to the Apostolic Almoner, whose mission is explained below, and which receives every day a great number of letters from needy people and families, a number that has increased along with the economic crisis, rising unemployment and the phenomenon of immigration. All these letters are authenticated by parish priests and other ecclesiastical authorities, to whom as guarantors the economic assistance will be given, to be devolved to the people concerned, “as it is important for the Pope's concrete gesture to be integrated with the solidarity of the local Church and Christian parish community”.
“Aid will be modest as it is hoped it will reach the largest possible number of people”, he continued. “The Almoner's Office also supports associations devoted to alleviating the suffering of different groups of people in difficulties, such as the homeless, political refugees, prisoners, overseas university students, hospital inpatients, the elderly, single mothers and orphaned or abandoned children. Similarly, again with modest subsidies, it also intervenes outside Italy, especially in the poorest countries, to support initiatives of a charitable nature promoted by bishops and diocesan or religious priests. Particular attention is also given to cloistered women religious, who often lack sufficient economic resources for everyday needs or to face extraordinary or unexpected maintenance work on community buildings”.
“In total, the sum that the Apostolic Almoner distributed in 2014 exceeded one and a half million Euros”, said Msgr. Rivelli, who went on to remark that when Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Konrad Krajewski in 2013 he instructed him to reach out to the poor, not to wait for them to ask for help, and to “leave his desk to go in search of them beyond the office walls”.
“All this is possible thanks to the charity fund available to the Almoner, made up of donations from private individuals and groups or bodies, or collections organised for the purpose, and offers directly from the hands of the Holy Father, who receives contributions for his charity during the general audiences and from meetings with pilgrims. The majority of the funds, however, come from the faculty, delegated to the Almoner by Pope Leo XIII, to grant apostolic blessings in the form of documents on parchment to the faithful who request them for certain occasions”.