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Caritas Internationalis General Assembly, Rome 12-17 May 2015


Caritas Internationalis’ General Assembly is a n important moment in the life of the global Catholic humanitarian relief and development confederation. Every four years delegates from 164 member organisations from across the globe travel to Rome for the meeting. During the week, they pray together, hold elections for new leadership and decide the confederation’s strategic direction for the next four years. Above all, it is a time to come together, listen and share and to strengthen Caritas mission to work as one in the fight against global injustice.

The theme of this General Assembly is One Human Family, Caring for Creation- an urgent call of hope that by working together as one humanity we can still lift millions of people out of misery and save our planet.

In Mass celebrated for the opening of Caritas’ General Assembly, Pope Francis spoke of our responsibility to look after the planet and to feed the hungry.

Over 300 Caritas delegates from across the world were at the Mass celebrated by Caritas bishops and Caritas president Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga in St Peter’s Basilica.

Speaking in Italian of Caritas’ global campaign to end hunger, Pope Francis said during his homily, “We must do what we can so that everyone has something to eat, but we must also remind the powerful of the Earth that God will call them to judgment one day and there it will be revealed if they really tried to provide food for Him in every person (cf. Matt.25: 35) and if they did what they could to preserve the environment so that it could produce this food.” Read the homily here.

The Pope spoke of Caritas’ campaign “One Human Family, Food for All” and encouraged people to “set the table for all” and said “Caritas sets many tables for the hungry”.

Speaking of the mission of the people who works for Caritas organisations, the Holy Father said, “Whoever lives the mission of Caritas is not simply a charitable worker, but is a true witness of Christ. He is a person who seeks Christ and allows Christ to seek him; people who love with the spirit of Christ, a spirit of gratuitousness and gift. All of our strategies and plans remain empty unless we carry this love in us.”

The opening session of the General Assembly started with a speech and blessings of Cardinal Roderigoz followed by a speech of a Caritas youth from Caritas Jordan to speak in the name of Caritas youth and in particular, youth of the Middle East.

Over 400 people from over 160 national Caritas organisations gathered in Rome also elected a new president, treasurer and ratified the nomination of the secretary general this week.

Newly-elected president, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, said, “Pope Francis gave us inspirational words on seeking to expand our work at the beginning of our General Assembly. With the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Pope Francis’s encyclical on ecology and the UN climate meeting in Paris this year, Caritas will work towards putting the human family and human dignity at the heart of development.”

Regarding the SDGs, the final message adopted by the General Assembly states that “no target should be considered as met unless achieved for all income and social groups; this fundamental, person-centred strategy must be central”.
The message urges governments to look beyond their own borders and to recognise the moral imperative that is inherent in care for creation.

Caritas delegates also called attention to the plight of Christians who suffer from religious persecution in Syria and Iraq and of migrants and refugees all over the world: “We urge governments to build safe havens and humanitarian corridors, rather than fences, walls or programmes of interdiction at sea.”

Michel Roy was reconfirmed as secretary general of the Caritas confederation and a new board was appointed. Alexander Bodmann of Austria was elected as new treasurer. South Sudan became the 165th national member organisation of the Caritas confederation. Oscar Romero, murdered for standing with the poor in El Salvador, was adopted as a patron of Caritas Internationalis.
 

 
 

 

 

 
 

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