ROME,— Pope Francis has donated $110,000 to a Catholic charity to provide medicine for Iraqi refugees in Kurdistan Region suffering from chronic illnesses. He did so as part of a campaign aimed at inspiring every diocese, church and movement to make concrete acts of mercy during the Holy Year.
Francis is the first benefactor of a campaign called “Be God’s Mercy,” launched on Friday by the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
The four-month fundraising effort will benefit projects such as pastoral ministry in prisons, drug rehabilitation centers, support groups for battered women and aid for refugees.
The pope’s donation will go to St. Joseph’s Clinic in Erbil, part of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, which is currently home to hundreds of thousands of Christian refugees who have had to flee their homes running from the terrorist Islamic group ISIS.
The health center offers medical care to 2,800 patients suffering chronic deceases.
The Roman Catholic Church is almost certainly the wealthiest organization in the world. In the United States alone, it is estimated that the Catholic Church has an operating budget of $170 billion in 2014, according to economist website.
The pontiff expressed his support to the fundraising initiative in a video message, introduced at a press conference in Rome.
“Men and women need the mercy of God, but also our own mercy,” he said. “We need to hold each other’s hands, caress each other, take care of one another, instead of waging so many wars.”
Francis invited “every man and woman of good will” to contribute in creating concrete works of mercy, “something that will remain,” structures that would help meet “the many needs present in the world today.”
“I thank you for everything you do. And don’t be afraid of mercy: mercy is God’s caress!” he said, closing the message.
ACN, also known by its German name “Kirche in not”, which is the one Francis uses throughout the video, is an international Catholic charity under the authority of the Holy See, born in 1947 at the express request of Pope Pius XII to help the refugees after the Second World War.
According to Philipp Ozores, secretary general of ACN, Francis has a long history with this charity.
Ozores said on Friday that 30 years ago, when the future pope was Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he visited the main offices of ACN in Germany in an attempt to put a face on the people who had helped him fund projects in his home country of Argentina.