The meeting, the third of its kind, took place at the Agustinianum Pontifical Athenaeum of Rome. All the participants are engaged in graduate university studies thanks to the support of Aid to the Church in Need, an association of pontifical right present in 130 countries.
57.3% of such students are priests; 25.3% religious; and the rest laymen, seminarians, and religious specializing at Pontifical Universities in Rome in over 30 fields, including Canon Law, Theology, Youth Pastoral Care, Media, Philosophy, and Psychology.
The majority of scholarship holders come from Africa (30.6%), followed by Asia (28.7%), Eastern Europe (28.2%), and Latin America (12.6%). These are continents in which ecclesial communities are often poor and characterized by persecution, Monsignor Giobbe Gazzoni said, president of the Italian secretariat of Aid to the Church in Need.
The association also helps Orthodox priests, many of whom have just emerged from years of severe persecution, Vatican observer Orazio Petrosillo explained.