Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Much needed shake up of Caritas underway

Cardinal Sarah (left), President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum,
visiting Tsunami devastated Japan

Some headlines:

Vatican bans Fr Timothy Radcliffe from speaking at Caritas meeting (Protect the Pope)

Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of Pontifical Council Cor Unum, calls for renewal as Caritas Internationalis celebrates 60 years (EF Pastor Emeritus)

As Caritas’ identity is refined, new slogan called unrealistic (Catholic News Agency)

It seems that there are concerns at the highest level about a liberalising tendency within Caritas, the charitable arm of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and said Pontifical Council is setting about putting things right.

In his social encyclical Deus Caritas est, Pope Benedict reminded the Church that:

it is very important that the Church's charitable activity maintains all of its splendour and does not become just another form of social assistance...

Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and it is not at the service of worldly stratagems, but it is a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs.(n.31)

He also reminds us that personnel working for these agencies must be inspired by love of Christ and the Church, and should always work in union with the Bishops and that prayer should take priority over activism.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the CNS report:

The goal of a new slogan adopted by the Vatican’s official charity is being called “unrealistic” by the Church official charged with overseeing the organization.

Cardinal Robert Sarah said he doesn’t understand Caritas International’s new theme – “One Human Family – Zero Poverty,” which was unveiled at the charity’s annual meeting this week in Rome.

“I think it would be wise not to follow some unrealistic slogans. But, I'm very hesitant to understand what zero poverty means, because Christ said we will always have the poor. So, what is a realistic way we can fight the poverty? But, it's difficult to absolutely cancel out poverty,” he told CNA May 22.

The slogan is both the theme for this week’s conference and for the organization’s strategic document for the next four years.

That must have been embarassing - for Caritas to unveil its slogan and then its Vatican "overseer" criticise it.

The cardinal’s comments come at a difficult time for Caritas. The organization faces criticism from Cardinal Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and others for a perceived lack of Catholic identity.
“I believe it is important to understand that our charitable organizations are located within the Church and not alongside her,” he said.

“A Caritas that wasn’t an ecclesial expression would have no meaning or existence. The Church cannot be considered as a partner of Catholic organizations. They are the organizations that take part in her mission.”

Deacon Nick of Protect the Pope gives his own comment on the banning of Fr Timothy Radcliffe. My own experiece of CAFOD is entirely consonant with the comments he makes and I could not in conscience send parishioners' money to CAFOD. It was for a long time run by an openly homosexual man and ambivalent to say the least on the question of condoms.

Also, when I see campaigns for "justice" and "zero poverty" or "make poverty history", I fear that we are losing the plot. Blessed Mother Teresa never campaigned for an end to poverty or for justice for the oppressed and marginalised. She just helped the poor with love, the greatest gift man can offer man. With this, all sorts of projects for the development of the poor can be achieved, without any of the ideology of slogan.

It's refreshing to see some signs of a shake up in these important areas of the Church's activity.

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