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Pope auctions off Lamborghini to help rebuild Christian communities in Iraq

(Reuters/Tony Gentile)FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis attends a conference on families and adolescent education at Rome's Basilica of St. John in Lateran, Italy June 19, 2017.

Pope Francis will be auctioning off a white Lamborghini that he received as a gift to help rebuild Christian communities that were devastated by the Islamic State in Iraq.

The Vatican press office said in a statement that a personalized Lamborghini Huracan model that was gifted to the pope will be sold through Sotheby's, and the earnings will be allocated to the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), to help fund the Nineveh Plains Reconstruction Project.

The luxury sports car, which was usually priced at $270,000, was presented to Francis by Lamborghini officials on Wednesday outside the Vatican hotel where the pontiff lives.

The Vatican noted that 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," it continued.

The cost of the reconstruction project, which includes over 30 churches that were destroyed, has been estimated to be $250 million. According to Crux, the project is headed by the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee, which includes ACN, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Syriac Catholic Church.

The heads of ACN Italy, who were present when Francis received and blessed the car, said that when they greeted the pontiff, they stressed 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."

Crux noted that of the proceeds of the car sale will go to the Pope John XXIII Community Association, and to two Italian charitable associations that focus their efforts in Africa.

The funds will help fund the "Pope Francis Home," which is aimed at helping women rescued from human trafficking networks and who were enslaved or forced into prostitution.

Some of the money will be donated to the Italian-Swiss association Gicam, known as the International Group of Hand Surgeon Friends. The group provides surgeons, physiotherapists, and volunteers, who have mobile operating rooms, with the necessary surgical instruments to operate on the sick, fractured, traumatized, and amputated hands.

The car sale will also benefit Friends of Central Africa Onlus, which is focused on helping women and children in the war-torn Central African Republic. The charity gives away scholarships for 3,000 children each year, and it also operates two healthcare centers and three centers for the promotion of women.

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