ROME—Italian luxury car manufacturer Lamborghini created a personalized edition of its Huracan model and donated it to Pope Francis on Wednesday morning. The pontiff will auction it off, with the earnings destined to go to four charitable projects, including the rebuilding of the Nineveh Plains.
According to a statement released by the Vatican’s press office, the white and yellow car will be sold through Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest brokers of art, jewelry, real estate, and collectibles.
The money raised will be “delivered directly to the Holy Father,” who has decided to allocate the proceeds to the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), to help fund the Nineveh Plains Reconstruction Project, to the Pope John XXIII Community Association, and to two Italian charitable associations that focus their efforts in Africa.
According to the statement, the project by ACN aims to “guarantee the return of Christians to the Nineveh Plains in Iraq through the rebuilding of their homes, the public structures and their site of prayers.
“After three years living as internally displaced refugees in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Christians will finally be able to return to their roots and recover their dignity,” the statement says.
The European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom have all recognized the genocide against Christians and other minorities, including the Yazidi, perpetrated by the Islamic terrorist organization ISIS.
After the Nineveh Plains were liberated, ACN surveyed the region, finding that 13,088 houses were damaged during the period of ISIS’s occupation. An estimated 19,500 Christian families fled the collection of villages that make up the area, and to date only 23,900 of the 95,000 people who fled have returned.
For the most part, these refugee families are unemployed or lack a regular income. The majority are still dependent upon the Church for food, lodging, clothes, medicine and other essentials.
The reconstruction project is headed by the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee, which includes ACN and the Christian churches in the region: the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Syriac Catholic Church. The cost of the reconstruction, which will include over 30 church buildings that were destroyed, is estimated to be $250 million.
In a statement released by ACN Italy, the heads of the pontifical foundation, who were in the Vatican when the pope received and blessed the car, said that when they greeted the pope, they underlined the fact that the “Marshall plan” for the Plains is the “son of a great process of reconciliation and forgiveness, and the fruit of an agreement between the local churches.”
During a meeting with Catholic leaders from Iraq in October, Francis said that after a “painful and violent oppression,” meaning the occupation of Iraqi territory by ISIS, there’s still “much to do” to help Christians and the other peoples of Iraq return to normal life.
“May your intentions remain strong not to give in to discouragement facing the difficulties that remain, notwithstanding what’s been done in the work of reconstruction in the Nineveh Plains,” he said.
To help raise funds, ACN has decided to dedicate it’s Christmas campaign to it. To date, the project has allowed an estimated 17 percent of Nineveh Plains Christians to return to their homes.
The money raised with the sale of the papal Lamborghini will also go to the Pope John XXIII Community Association, an international association of the faithful of pontifical right, founded in 1968, which embraces a practical and constant commitment to combatting marginalization and poverty.
The sale of the Huracan car will help fund the “Pope Francis Home,” that will help women rescued from human trafficking networks and who were enslaved or forced into prostitution, many of them minors.
The Argentine pontiff has repeatedly spoken about the need to fight the illegal industry of trafficking in persons and modern-day slavery, which is estimated to affect 40 million people globally and generate a revenue that puts it in the top three most profitable criminal enterprises, together with drug and arms dealing.
The money raised will also go to the Italian-Swiss association Gicam, known as the International Group of Hand Surgeon Friends, which provides surgeons, physiotherapists and volunteers, who have a movable operating room with all the necessary surgical instruments to operate on the sick, fractured, traumatized and amputeed hands, to give a future, a job, and a hope to those who do not have one anymore.
The Lamborghini will also benefit Friends of Central Africa Onlus, which focuses most of its work in the war-torn Central African Republic. They have three centers for the promotion of women, 2 healthcare centers, and scholarships for 3,000 children a year.
The Lamborghini Huracan model’s starting price is estimated at $270,000. Last year, a Fiat 500 Francis used during the New York leg of his 2015 visit to the United States, was bought by a businessman for $300,000.