FAST FACTS: Pope Francis Center

Reynaldo Santos Jr

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FAST FACTS: Pope Francis Center
The construction of the center – named after Pope Francis – is funded by Vatican City's Cor Unum, the Caritas of the Holy See

MANILA, Philippines – Part of Pope Francis’ activities in his visit to the country is the blessing of a newly-established center created in his honor.

While in Leyte on June 17, the pontiff will be visiting and blessing the Pope Francis Center, constructed at the vicinity of the Archbishop’s residence in Palo, Leyte. The center has a home for the elderly, clinic, orphanage, and chapel.

The center has a total floor area of 1,414.60 square meters. It has two sleeping quarters – for the elderly and for orphans – which can accommodate 40 persons each. Its construction – which reportedly reached around P60 million – began in July, and was finished almost a month before the Pope’s visit.

The construction was funded by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum for Human and Christian Development of the Vatican, or simply Cor Unum, which is considered the Caritas of the Holy See. Cor Unum president Robert Cardinal Sarah even visited Leyte on January 28 to lead the groundbreaking ceremony for the center.

Cor Unum was established by Pope Paul VI in 1971. Among its objectives is to “assist the Pope and be his instrument for carrying out special initiatives in the field of humanitarian actions when disaster occurs, or in the field of integral human promotion.”

After Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the country, Pope Francis donated, through the Cor Unum, emergency aid amounting to $150,000 for the survivors. Cor Unum also donated around P697,500 a few days after Typhoon Ondoy struck in 2009.

It was found, however, that only 16% of the 2009 donation was disbursed, leading priests and lay leaders to seek a probe into the finances of the Diocese of Parañaque under Bishop Jesse Mercado for alleged misuse of funds.

Apart from the Pope Francis Center, a Gawad Kalinga settlement in Cebu was named after the pontiff. This settlement houses some Yolanda survivors in the province. –

SOURCES: Rappler, various news websites

Learn about the other spots in Pope Francis’ itinerary:

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