Pope’s Initiative ‘Alliance for Rome’: Aid to 2500 People

Results of Project Involving Dioceses, the Lazio Region and the Capital, Rome, to Support Those that Have Suffered the Consequences of the Pandemic

Pope’s Initiative ‘Alliance for Rome’: Aid to 2500 People
President Zingaretti, Bishop Palmieri and Mayor Raggi © Acali / Exaudi
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Alliance for Rome will aid 2500 people.

The numbers are important but they don’t explain all. In fact, they might seem to be a palliative, given the ocean of difficulties generated by the pandemic. However, the Alliance for Rome project, in addition to representing a concrete support for hundreds of families, has inaugurated a new stage of collaboration between the Pope’s Diocese and civil institutions, geared to proceed in a structural manner. It’s what emerged in the course of the presentation, in the Lateran Apostolic Palace, of the results of the Holy Father’s initiative. A year ago, on June 10, he allocated one million euros to the “Jesus, the Divine Worker Fund,” to support those greatly affected by the economic crisis due to the pandemic. Adhering to it, at the request of the Pontiff himself, were the Lazio Region and the Capital, Rome, with 500,000 euros each, establishing the Alliance for Rome. Added to this initial fund were the contributions of companies and individuals for an additional 201,000 euros.

The Pope’s Initiative

 As the Assistant Manager of the Diocese, Monsignor Giampiero Palmieri explained, it was a “prophetic gesture” on the part of the Pope, a concrete help “to those that lost everything,” to all those that are “mainly invisible,” from whom a silent but deafening cry arises s” to “ask for the right to live in a worthy manner.” Recalling the biblical sense of the word Covenant, of the “God so close to us as to mingle His life with us,” Monsignor Palmieri stressed that we “cannot but live the same dimension with the men and women of our time.”

The Bishop highlighted one of the most painful aspects that emerged in this period: “We have seen that in this city one of the problems is the precariousness of work. Too many have to make do with some expedient to earn their daily bread. We can make an impact by combining justice and dignity, small gestures. No one is so poor that he can’t give something. For example, avoid cultivating pockets of work that are not very transparent and low-paid.” With this project, “we have tried to oppose the tendency to egoism with help to others,” he added.

More than 400 Volunteers Are Involved

 Important, therefore, are the “qualitative” results of the initiative: “ecclesial realities, institutions, social services worked more and better together, be it at the central level or singularly. Born often of little collaborations were networks of territorial support,” which became a firm point.” A demonstration of this is “the impressive number of volunteers involved,  — over 400 in the Caritas centers. The slogan ‘not given as alms is what is owed out of justice,’ can and must become reality. The poor are not in need of small change and leftovers, but of the possibility not to feel themselves only a weight for society. And in this period we have all become a bit more community,” he concluded.

875 Requests Received

 It was for Massimo Pasco, responsible for the project, to reel off the numbers of the initiative — a structure that involved, in addition to coordination, 75 territorial listening units and 150 Diocesan Listening Centers. “The project was not a cake to divide but leaven to make grow, to grow especially by restoring the dignity of work,” he explained. To the point that, alongside the “punctual” material aid (rent support, payment of bills, etc.) close to 35% of the resources (against 10% of the forecasts) went to initiatives of work re-qualification and reinsertion. The multiplying effect of the aid was made concrete in the extension to family nuclei. The 875 cases aided (52% of which went to Italian subjects) reached close to 2500 people. The age group most affected was that between 35 and 54 years, over 450 cases. The majority lost their work or suffered a strong work reduction, ending up in the cauldron of poverty. The complete data is available on the site http://www.caritasroma.it/

Virginia Raggi: “Rome, City of Solidarity”

Alliance for Rome
Virginia Raggi with the bishops Palmieri (left) and Ambarus © Acali / Exaudi

 “Rome is the city of solidarity and generosity, close to those that suffer, to the invisible,” said Mayor Virginia Raggi. “Together we succeeded in creating something new, which has generated wealth that isn’t quantifiable only in monetary terms but in relational terms,” she added. Raggi, who also mentioned the recent Report on the new poverties carried out by Rome, Capital, also stressed the need for prompt help to “restore dignity and oppose criminality, which doesn’t follow the rules and arrives fast. We are in need of simple and rapid instruments to be on the side of honest people.”

Zingaretti: The Role of Volunteers Is Decisive

For her part, Nicola Zingaretti, President of the Lazio Region, praised the strategy of closeness: the “attention to listening has made the difference. Now we must not lose this patrimony.” According to Zingaretti, “little was reflected on the fact that alongside the health aspects, little investigated aspects were taking on substance.” She synthesized it with the term “loneliness: within this word are elements of detachment from social, productive and affective life. If COVID kills the body, little has been reflected on how much loneliness kills people.” Therefore, “the added value of volunteer work” is essential.

 She also stressed the importance of “that virtual model that is the accompaniment of active work policies “ to oppose the “obscene increase of social inequalities,” but also of the social networks. In view of the Jubilee, in just four years time, “there will be technical objectives established but now we already have one: Rome, Capital will not be able to welcome pilgrims with this data of poverty and social hardship. We must not stop.”

The Testimonies

The initiative, therefore, functions, as two testimonies also demonstrate, that of Giuliana a volunteer, who highlighted sharing, and that of Lucia, which was read, who is the wife of Piero Mele. Piero was the Caritas contact in the Prefecture, and a very active person in his parish of St. Justin in the Alessandrino neighbourhood. He was taken away by COVID but up to the last moment, before leaving in the ambulance, he was concerned about others. A plaque was placed in is memory.

New Projects of the Alliance for Rome

 Why stop, if the initiative functions? In reality the project is being closed but not the Alliance for Rome, as Bishop Benoni Ambarus explained, known by all as Don Ben, delegate for Charity and former Director of the diocesan Caritas. “At the end of March we had to close nine practices because the funds were exhausted. The Alliance for Rome was imposed with emergency criteria and, hence, was provisional. However, we decided not to close and all go home, but to take stock and consolidate some things in a structural way,” beginning with the operative manual of rights which will be transformed into a Permanent Observatory of Rights.” Moreover, maintained in every Prefecture will be some PTA “of support to Listening Centers,” and the role of Caritas contacts will be reinforced.

Finally, in the course of one of two months a long-lasting project will be launched to support work. “The true emergency in Rome is the precarious and precarizzato work. There are people exploited in an unworthy manner, a change of mentality is needed,” concluded Monsignor Ambarus.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester

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