Vatican aid to poor up 25 per cent in 2014

The Vatican under Pope Francis gave out aid worth 1.5 million euros (US $1.6 million) in 2014, an increase of 25 percent over the previous year.

Refugees, prisoners, the homeless, the sick and the elderly benefitted from the aid.

Direct Vatican aid helped 8000 people in 2014, along with religious communities which used it for basic needs or building renovation work.

The donations are generally modest, because the Vatican hopes to reach as many people as possible, explained Bishop Diego Giovanni Ravelli, from the papal almoner’s office.

Pope Francis has made the plight of the homeless and other marginalised groups one of the defining themes of his papacy.

Fundraising initiatives have multiplied with the pontiff even auctioning off gifts from visiting heads of state.

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