POPULORUM PROGRESSIO FOUNDATION
Approves 223 rural start-up projects in South America
The annual meeting of the Board of Administration of the Populorum Progressio Foundation took place from 7 to 12 July in Sucre and La Paz, Bolivia.
The Foundation was created by Pope John Paul II on 13 February 1992, during the Fifth Centenary of the beginning of Evangelization of Latin America, when the Fourth General Assembly of CELAM was also celebrated.
Populorum Progressio Foundation aims to be a sign and witness of Christian solidarity
The main purpose is to promote the integral development of the rural communities of the campesinos of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Indigenous, Mestizo and African-American peoples, and to be a sign and a witness of Christian brotherhood and authentic solidarity. Its headquarters are at the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum". The President and legal representative, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, was present throughout the meeting.
The Board of Adminstration supervises the application of the Foundation's Statutes, then studies and approves the projects submitted for integral development during the year. The Board is made up of seven members, six of whom are Bishops of different Latin American countries and one who is a member of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".
At the meeting this year 223 projects out of the 270 submitted were approved for a sum totalling $1,895,300 U.S. This sum will be sent to those in charge of the projects in August. This year Colombia, Peru and Bolivia will receive extra help. The Antilles, Cuba and Honduras submitted the fewest requests.
Of the projects approved, 36.67% concern production, either stock-breeding, craft work and mini-businesses or community farms; 27.78% concern the municipal infrastructure, drinking water, sewage, fencing, and community halls; the third sector, 15.92% of the approved projects, concern education: training, staff, communications and publishing; 12.59% concern the construction of health-care centres, schools and housing; and 7.04% concern health care: training and staff. Including this year's projects, in the 10 years since Populorum Progressio was founded, 1,820 projects have been approved overall, for a total of just over 1.5 million U.S. dollars.
450th anniversary of the Church of La Plata, today Sucre
With the meeting in the city of Sucre, the Foundation joins in the joyful celebrations for the 450th anniversary of the Particular Church of La Plata, today Sucre. On 27 June 1552, with the Bull Super specula, Pope Julius III canonically established the Diocese of La Plata, at the request of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, King Charles I of Spain and Archduke of Austria, which prepared the ground for the subsequent establishment of many other particular Churches in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. La Plata became an Archdiocese on 20 July 1609. In 1924, it was renamed Sucre to include the whole Department of Chuquisaca.
Bolivia, the country hosting this meeting, is one of the American countries that has submitted the most projects to the Papal Foundation in the past ten years. In absolute terms, it comes third after Colombia and Peru; in relation to the number of inhabitants, it comes first, with 179 projects approved and funding allocated for a million and a half dollars. The Foundation, aware of the high proportion of Indigenous peoples who live there, has always given special consideration to this country: out of a population of almost 8 million, Indigenous peoples account for 71%, according to the March 2002 edition of the Brazilian journal, Mensageiro; or, according to the Microsoft Encarta Atlas of 1996, Indigenous account for 55%, in addition to 30% who are Mestizo.
Msgr. Francisco Azcona San Martín
Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"