The Papal Foundation presented its first financial support to Pope (now Saint) John Paul II and the Holy See in April 1990.
Since then, the Foundation has provided over $176.9 million in grants and scholarships to build the Church, educate and prepare leaders, and care for the most vulnerable people, young and old, around the world.
Our commitment today remains the same as it was in the beginning days: To walk in union with the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church as we bring the love of Christ to a world in need.
On March 8, 2021, Pope Francis returned from a historic three-day trip to Iraq, where he met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country’s top cleric. Asked afterward if his visit was a message to Iraq’s religious leaders, the pontiff responded, “I believe it was a universal message. I felt the duty of this pilgrimage of faith and penance to go and find a great, a wise man, a man of God.”
According to an article by the Catholic News Agency, the religious leaders’ meeting in the residence of al-Sistani, in the city of Najaf, was “a milestone in relations between the Catholic Church and Shiite Islam.” In fact, the trip was the first time that a pope had ever visited Iraq. Part of Pope Francis’ mission on the trip was to encourage the nation’s persecuted Christian minority and to support interreligious fraternity. According to a spokesman for the Holy See press office, the two leaders spoke for 45 minutes.
The Papal Foundation, whose mission is to serve the Holy Father and the Roman Catholic Church through faith, energy and financial resources, has actively supported Pope Francis’ commitment to human fraternity in the Middle East and elsewhere. In addition to providing a $1 million grant for humanitarian assistance in Iraq in 2014, the Foundation has granted approximately $2.5 million in funding for similar missions across the Middle East, including programs in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.