John Paul II Boosted Aid to Tsunami Victims

Report of Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 18, 2005 ( Two days before his death, John Paul II gave instructions to increase the financial aid that the Holy See allocated to peoples hit by the tsunami and subsequent natural disasters.

The Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” headed by Archbishop Paul Cordes, revealed the Pope’s directives today in a statement. The council oversees distribution of aid on behalf of the Pope.

“Among John Paul II’s last dispositions,” two days before his April 2 death, was the decision to send additional aid “for the reconstruction of a school in Sri Lanka ($100,000), and for the peoples of the Nias Island in Indonesia, hit by a new earthquake ($50,000),” the statement said.

The document, which reports on the works of charity carried out by John Paul II in 2004 through “Cor Unum,” states that last Dec. 27, the day after the devastating tidal wave hit southern Asia and parts of Africa, the Holy Father wished to manifest his paternal and spiritual closeness to the peoples most affected by the grave calamity.

He thus decided to send immediate aid “to Sri Lanka ($100,000), to Indonesia ($75,000), to India ($75,000, to Thailand ($50,000) and to Somalia ($10,000), which took into account the first reports on the severity of the damages caused by the tsunami.”

In reporting on its activities in 2004, “Cor Unum” mentioned that in July the Pope sent Archbishop Cordes as a messenger to the peoples of the Darfur region in Sudan, “to manifest to those populations, in the majority Christians, martyred by the internal war, his paternal and spiritual closeness, to confirm them in the faith and to encourage them in hope.”

“On that occasion, the Holy Father’s envoy gave the local Church, on the Holy Father’s behalf, a contribution of some $130,000, to offer aid to the neediest,” revealed the text.

From June 19-27, by decision of John Paul II, Archbishop Cordes visited Haiti and the Dominican Republic, to offer them aid after they were hit by devastating floods.

In 2004, on behalf of the Pope, “Cor Unum” allocated $1.7 million to help peoples affected by natural calamities, and refugees and emigrants.

In addition, in 2004 the Holy Father requested that $2.81 million be allocated to developing peoples to foster “their integral development, to support projects for children, women, the elderly and the handicapped.”

Moreover, the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, set up by the Pope to help victims of drought and desertification in that African region, approved 169 projects in 2004 amounting to $2.29 million.

The beneficiaries were Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.

And last year, the Populorum Progressio Foundation, set up by John Paul II to help Indian, Afro-Americans, and peasants in Latin America and the Caribbean, approved 231 projects amounting to $1.8 million.

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