Pope Francis has approved the creation of a new foundation promoting spirituality, art, formation, and dialogue in the environs of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican announced on Wednesday.
The Holy See press office said on December 15 that the pope had issued a decree known as a chirograph establishing the Fratelli tutti Foundation, named after his 2020 encyclical on fraternity and social friendship.
In the decree, dated December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the pope wrote: “I have learned with satisfaction that the Fabric of St. Peter, together with some of the faithful, wish to join together to establish a Foundation of Religion and Worship intended to collaborate in spreading the principles set out in my recent encyclical, Fratelli tutti, to encourage initiatives linked to spirituality, art, education, and dialogue with the world, around St. Peter’s Basilica and in the embrace of its colonnade.”
“I therefore gladly accede to the request expressed to me to establish in the State of Vatican City an autonomous foundation for the above-mentioned purposes.”
The pope also approved the new body’s statutes.
The foundation was proposed by Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, O.F.M. Conv., to support the work of the Fabric of St. Peter, the office responsible for the conservation and maintenance of St. Peter’s Basilica and the surrounding area.
Pope Francis named Gambetti in February as archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, vicar general for Vatican City State, and president of the Fabric of St. Peter.
Gambetti, who received the cardinal’s red hat in November 2020, was general custos, or head, of the convent attached to the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi from 2013 to 2020.
The 56-year-old Franciscan cardinal will oversee the new foundation.
The Vatican said in March that a commission overseeing reform of the office managing St. Peter’s Basilica had completed its work.
In June 2020, Pope Francis named a commissioner to reform the administration of the Fabric, where documents and computers were seized at the request of judicial authorities.
The decision to appoint a commissioner was made following a report by the Vatican’s auditor general, which is responsible for monitoring offices of the Roman Curia and Vatican City State for financial corruption.
A Vatican press release issued on December 15 said that the Fratelli tutti Foundation had three main aims: “to support and design pathways of art and faith”; “to invest in cultural and spiritual formation through events, experiences, pathways, and spiritual exercises”; and “to promote dialogue with cultures and other religions on the themes of the pontiff’s latest encyclicals, in order to build a ‘social alliance.’”
It said that the new foundation would also assume responsibility, “in the symbolic embrace of the colonnade of St. Peter’s Basilica,” for “the weakest people, the outsider and the foreigner, the different and the marginalized,” offering “solutions in the light of the Gospel and the papal Magisterium.”