Peter's Pence: The pope's official charity, with eighth century roots

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These are certainly some of the sweetest moments of Pope Francis' pontificate, visiting the world's tiniest members during his much admired 'Mercy Fridays' initiative.   

Few people know possible to help the pope directly achieve such works by donating to the official papal charity. Known as 'Peter's Pence,' it is a longstanding tradition that started at the end of the eight century, and was officially enacted by Pope Pius IX in 1871. 

Just last fall, the Vatican created this new website as another way for people to contribute. It includes messages from Pope Francis, as well as explanations of the different solidarity projects Peter's Pence supports.   

For example, this initiative here at the Bangui Children's Hospital, where specialists from the Vatican's Bambino Gesù hospital support the only children's hospital in the Central African Republic.   

In particular, there is a worldwide collection on June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, or on the Sunday closest to the Solemnity. Over the course of the last fourteen years, it has raised over 190 million dollars, including $82.5 million in 2009, $67.7 million in 2010, $69.7 million in 2011 and $65.9 million in 2012.  

In this tweet by Pope Francis, he said that 'to live charitably means not looking out for our own interests, but carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us.' Peter's Pence, then, is a sure way to help the pope achieve his mission of going to the peripheries. 

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