How Pope Francis used a donated Lamborghini to help rebuild Iraqi Christian communities

By Courtney Mares for CNA

Pope Francis blesses a Lamborghini Huracán at the Vatican on Nov. 15, 2017. Credit: L’Osservatore Romano.

Rome Newsroom, Mar 3, 2021 / 06:15 am (CNA).- Christians in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains were able to rebuild a nursery school and other facilities destroyed by the Islamic State thanks to a custom Lamborghini auctioned off by Pope Francis.

The pope received the white Lamborghini Huracán emblazoned with gold stripes on its hood as a donation from company executives of the Italian sports car manufacturer in November 2017.

After blessing and signing the luxury sports car, the Vatican auctioned it off six months later via Sotheby’s in London for $950,000, a portion of which was earmarked to help with the restoration of destroyed towns in the Nineveh Plains.

The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need was entrusted with 200,000 euros (around $240,000), which it used to complete two building projects in Iraq, according to its director in Rome.

Alessandro Monteduro, director of Aid to the Church in Need Italia, said he was pleased that these rebuilding projects had been completed just before Pope Francis’ trip to Iraq, which will take place on March 5-8.

With the funds from the auction, the pontifical charity reconstructed a Syrian Catholic nursery school, which has room for 70 children, and a multipurpose room for a Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

“With the two projects described, Aid to the Church in Need wanted to honor the donation of the Holy Father by concretely placing itself alongside the Christians attacked by ISIS, and is pleased that they were completed close to the historic apostolic journey of Francis himself to Iraq,” Monteduro said.

Both rebuilding projects took place in Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul. Bishop Yohanna Boutros Mouche of Mosul said he hoped that the rebuilt infrastructure would help displaced families returning to the region.

“We are happy to finish the work on the Virgin Mary kindergarten, which will help and encourage our children to return to Bashiqa and study again,” the Syrian Catholic bishop said, according to ACN.

Aid to the Church in Need reported that just over 45% of the families originally residing in the Nineveh Plains and driven out by the Islamic State had returned to their homes as of January 2021.

Monteduro said that of the 200,000 euros received from the pope, 166,000 euros (around $200,000) went toward the reconstruction of the destroyed church multipurpose room and 34,000 euros (approximately $40,000) helped to rebuild the nursery school.

Pope Francis decided to donate the other portion of the auction sale of the Lamborghini to assist victims of human trafficking through the Pope John XXIII Community and to help fund humanitarian work in Africa through the GICAM consortium of medical workers and the Friends of Central Africa organization.

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