Three and a half (3.5) million euros—this is the amount of the payments the Apostolic Almoner has made in 2018, in giving aid to people in a state of material distress. The information was released by the Vatican to put an end to a controversy that arose in May 2019 between the Italian executive branch and the Holy See.
Since Blessed Gregory X (1271-1276) the Apostolic Almoner has been in the habit of helping those who cannot afford the necessities of life. Today, the organization headed by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski responds to the various requests that are made to him mostly by Romans: unpaid rent, gas or electricity bills, doctor's bills, etc.
To fund these works of corporal mercy, the Almoner relies on donations and offerings obtained in exchange for certificates of apostolic blessings.
The official website, Vatican News, had publicized the amount of papal alms in 2018, in the context of the controversy. Indeed, on May 11, 2019, Cardinal Krajewski, on his own initiative, restored electricity in a building where more than 400 people live—mostly poor families illegally squatting in dilapidated buildings. To do this the cardinal did not hesitate to break the seals the police had put on the electric meter a few days earlier, thus also restoring the hot water.
Questioned about this gesture by the vice-president of the Italian council, Matteo Salvini, the Polish prelate announced that the Apostolic Almoner would pay the unpaid bill, an amount of 300,000 euros. He has also declared himself ready to pay the fine which he risks incurring.
Matteo Salvini did not hesitate to castigate the Apostolic Aumoner in these terms: “I do not comment on the cardinals’ decisions, I only say that if the Vatican wants to help all the Italians who cannot manage to pay for electricity, gas, or water, the many people who do not illegally occupy homes or buildings would be very happy.”