A worldwide collection, known as Peter's Pence, is taken up on the 29th -- the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul -- or a date close to it, chosen by local bishops.
The funds collected are not part of the Holy See's budget, but are allocated directly to the Pope's charitable works.
In 2004, the year of the most recent data, $51.7 million was collected and allocated to victims of natural disasters, to AIDS sufferers in Africa, and to some Catholic communities rebuilding after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
As his Angelus address today, Benedict XVI expressed his "heartfelt" thanks to the community "for the prayers and support … of my ministry of Successor of Peter, called to serve the whole people of God."
The Vatican Web page offers the possibility to contribute directly to Peter's Pence, using a credit cared or by writing directly to Benedict XVI, at postal address: 00120 Vatican City.