“The Church in our city is present and accompanies the weak with her charity, and is ready to collaborate with the city’s institutions and with all the social and economic realities,” he stated.
The pope said it was very close to his heart to protect the dignity of those hit hardest by the effects of the pandemic. He referenced in particular: seasonal, day, and hourly laborers, people with short-term contracts, interns, domestic workers, small business owners, and the self-employed.
Before the pandemic, Italy’s overall unemployment rate was just under 10%. In the months of March and April, Italy saw its number of jobs drop by 400,000 and at the end of April, according to ANSA, 4.7 million people filed requests for the country’s COVID-19 bonus, a 600 euro-per-month stipend for self-employed Italians who lost their source of income due to the coronavirus.
“This time of suffering we are living because of the pandemic, besides sowing sorrow and worry, is seriously weakening the social fabric of our city,” the pope underlined.
“We see that many people are asking for help, and it seems that ‘the five loaves of bread and two fish’ are not enough. Yet, I cannot but notice with joy the signs of life of our Church in Rome and of the whole city.”
He encouraged Romans to give to the new fund and to share generously with their neighbors, not just from their “excess,” adding that he would like to see the city grow in the “solidarity of next door.”
He also invited the priests of Rome diocese to be the first to participate and to be enthusiastic supporters of sharing in their communities.
“May the Lord bless our diocesan community and the whole city. I invoke on all the strength and consolation and protection of Mary Salus Populi Romani,” he wrote as he closed his letter.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.
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