Bill Clinton Visits Vatican to Assess Tsunami Aid

John Paul II Increased Aid Before Death

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2005 ( Former U.S. President Bill Clinton visited the Vatican in his U.N.-mandated campaign to promote international solidarity in tsunami relief projects.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano met with Clinton today, informing him that Pope John Paul II, two days before his death, requested that financial aid from the Holy See be increased for populations hit by the tsunami and subsequent natural disasters.

In particular, John Paul II requested that $100,000 be sent for the reconstruction of a school in Sri Lanka, and $50,000 be sent to the residents of the Nias Islands in Indonesia, affected by a new earthquake, according to the Pontifical Council «Cor Unum» on April 18.

John Paul II sent immediate financial aid following the disaster, with the hope that it would elicit the generosity of Catholics worldwide.

By early February, Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of Catholic aid organizations headquartered in the Vatican, reported that it had collected some $320 million in aid relief.

Cardinal Sodano introduced Clinton to Archbishop Paul Cordes, president of «Cor Unum,» who gave details of the work carried out by Catholic institutions worldwide, reported Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls.

«They also spoke about two other enormous present-day problems: the contribution of states to developing countries, and the struggle against AIDS, especially in Africa,» concluded the Vatican statement.

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