File Photo: Pope Francis (AFP)
Pope Francis is offering 460,000 euros (more than $500,000) in aid for South Sudan to help finance two hospitals, a school and farm equipment.
Francis had hoped to visit South Sudan in October to draw attention to the plight of its people faced with starvation and civil war, but called off the trip because the conditions wouldn't permit it.
"Since the Holy Father was unable to go to South Sudan in person, he wanted to concretely show the church's presence and closeness with the suffering people," Cardinal Peter Turkson, Francis' point-man for peace and refugee issues, told a news conference Wednesday.
The money will go to help fund two hospitals run by the Combonian missionary sisters, a primary school run by a humanitarian group "Solidarity with South Sudan" and an agricultural project run by the Vatican's Caritas foundation.
Combonian Sister Laura Gemignani, who works in one of the hospitals, said that aside from the tangible effects of new financial aid, the pope's assistance helped alleviate the sense felt by many in South Sudan that theirs is in many ways a forgotten conflict.
"This gesture makes us feel part of the family, with the Holy Father as our father," she said.