VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis donated $200,000 to fund educational scholarships in Lebanon, which is facing a devastating economic crisis compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement released by the Holy See Press Office May 14, the Vatican said the donation, which will support 400 scholarships in the country, was an expression of the pope’s “fatherly concern,” especially toward young Lebanese men and women “who see their present as arduous and their future as uncertain.”
“In this context, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that the sons and daughters of the Lebanese people have access to education which, especially in smaller areas, has always been guaranteed by ecclesiastical institutions,” the Vatican said.
The pandemic has only worsened the political and economic crisis the country has faced in recent months. According to statistics published April 21 by the World Bank, the current crisis will place 45% of the Lebanese population in poverty and 22% in extreme poverty.
Coupled with inflation and high unemployment rates, many young Lebanese people find themselves unable to afford tuition. As a result, universities and other educational institutions are facing increased loss of revenue and are being forced to cut staff.
The Vatican said the donation was “a tangible sign” of the pope’s closeness “in the hope of achieving a gesture of solidarity and with the desire that all involved at national and international levels will responsibly pursue the search for the common good, overcoming every division and partisan interest.”
By Junno Arocho Esteves | Catholic News Service