John Paul II Appeals in Favor of Latin American Indians and Afro-Americans

Commemorates 10th Anniversary of «Populorum Progressio» Foundation

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 9, 2002 ( John Paul II appealed for aid for the neediest Indian and African-American populations of Latin America when commemorating the 10th anniversary of the «Populorum Progressio» Foundation, which he himself created.

«Helping the poor is a Gospel imperative, addressed with vigor to all Christians, who are never allowed to pass by their neighbor who has been stricken with misfortune,» the Pope said in a letter addressed to Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council «Cor Unum» and president of the foundation.

The letter, published today by the Vatican Press Office, notes that between 1993 and 2001, the foundation supported 1,596 projects amounting to a total of $13.1 million.

The foundation was created Feb. 13, 1992, on the occasion of the fifth centenary of the start of evangelization in the New World.

In his letter, John Paul II says that one of the secrets of the efficacy of the foundation is that «the persons responsible for approving projects and deciding on the distribution of funds come from the very areas in which the projects are implemented.»

In fact, the administrative council is composed of six ordinaries from Latin America and the Caribbean, who are asked to examine and discuss the requests presented.

The administrative council is currently meeting in the Bolivian city of Sucre, to analyze requests for funding for next year’s projects, already presented to the foundation.

Those officers participating in the meeting, in addition to the foundation’s president, Archbishop Cordes, are Colombian Archbishop Fabio Betancur of Manizales, president of the administrative council; and Brazilian Bishop Alberto Taveira of Palmas, council vice president.

The members attending the meeting are Cardinal Juan Sandoval, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico; Archbishop Eduardo Luis Abastoflor of La Paz, Bolivia; Bishop Emeritus Gerardo Flores of Vera Paz, Coban, Guatemala; Apostolic Vicar Bishop Jose Luis Astigarraga Lizarralde of Yurimaguas, Peru; Monsignor Francisco Azcona of «Cor Unum»; and Juan Vicente Isaza, secretary of the council. The administrative council is headquartered in Bogota.

In his letter the Holy Father said: «I note with sadness that, if in some of the developing countries the scourge of poverty strikes a major part of the population, the most abandoned groups of such a society do not have even what is most essential,» something that is especially true of the Indian, Mestizo, and Afro-American populations of Latin America.

Given this reality, the Pope explained that the «Populorum Progressio» Foundation «is intended to be a sign expressing my closeness to those who find themselves in conditions of grave privation and who are frequently neglected by society or by the public authorities themselves, often incapable of doing anything for them.»

The foundation depends on voluntary contributions. Its headquarters is in Vatican City itself. Contributions may be sent by check to:

Pontifical Council «Cor Unum»
«Populorum Progressio» Foundation
00120 Vatican City

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