Vatican City, Feb 24, 2017 / 04:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a bid to help local economies in the zones ravaged by several major earthquakes in 2016 recover, the Vatican this week purchased produce from several small farmers in the area, using it to feed the poor and homeless in Rome.
A Feb. 24 communique from the Papal Almoner’s office said that “at the express wish” of the Pope, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the man in charge of managing the papal charities, visited the earthquake zones in Central Italy this week “to purchase from small farmers, in great difficulty due to the earthquake, food typical of the affected areas.” The produce was then “immediately distributed” in different soup kitchens around Rome to be used in preparing the daily meals offered to homeless and persons in need.
According to the communique, Annona, the supermarket inside Vatican City, has already for some time been selling products “typical of the earthquake zones” as a way of “supporting and helping to restart the economy in that part of Central Italy still in difficulty.”
Krajewski traveled to several of the small towns in the area, filling large trucks with products from farmers whose stores or markets struggling to continue after the damages they endured after the earthquakes.
The first 6.2 magnitude quake hit in the early hours of Aug. 24, 2016, killing some 250 people throughout Central Italy and leveling buildings and houses in several small towns, leaving many without homes or livelihoods. A few months later a second 6.6 quake hit near the same area in central Italy Oct. 30, causing extensive damage.
In the communique, the papal almoner said the decision to shop from small farmers is an act consistent “with the magisterium of Pope Francis, who in his meetings has often recalled that ‘when one doesn’t earn their bread, dignity is lost.’” During his “shopping trips” Archbishop Krajewski was accompanied by the bishops of each of the cities he visited, including Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti; Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole F.D.P. of Ascoli Piceno; Bishop Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro of Camerino-San Severino Marche and Bishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia.
In each city the bishops identified groups of farmers or producers “whose stores were at risk of closing due to damages caused by the earthquake,” the communique read, explaining that the purchases were intended by the Pope to be a sign of help and encouragement “to continue in their activities.”