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June 3 2011 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Church teaching must guide the efforts of relief agencies, says Pope
BY ED WEST
CHURCH development agencies must be more closely guided by Catholic teaching, Pope Benedict XVI has told Caritas Internationalis’s leaders, as the Vatican strengthened its oversight of the group’s operations.
Speaking at the 60th anniversary assembly of Caritas Internationalis in Rome, the Pope said the Vatican was responsible for the charity’s activities and “exercising oversight to ensure that its humanitarian and charitable activity, and the content of its documents, are completely in accord with the Apostolic See and the Church’s Magisterium”.
The Pope was speaking last Friday after a six-day meeting of delegates to the Caritas general assembly, which includes representatives of the 165 national Catholic charities that make up the Caritas Internationalis confederation, among them Cafod in England and Wales, Sciaf in Scotland and Trócaire in Ireland.
The meeting came after the Holy See had prevented the organisation’s British-born secretarygeneral, Lesley-Anne Knight, from standing for re-election.
Earlier in the week Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis that the Church’s consortium of relief and development agencies must have a vibrant Christian identity.
The general assembly’s agenda included new statutes that strengthen Vatican control of the organisation’s operations, reflecting Pope Benedict’s teaching on Christian charity.
The Pope said that with its special juridical status, established in 2004 Caritas “took on a particular role in the heart of the ecclesial community and was called to
Pope Benedict XVI joins cardinals, bishops and delegates at the 19th general assembly of Caritas Internationalis at the Vatican CNS Photo/L’Osservatore Romano share, in collaboration with the ecclesiastical hierarchy, in the Church’s mission of making manifest, through practical charity, that love which is God himself”.
Caritas, he said, is called to bring the Church’s message to international political and social discussions. But, he said, “in the political sphere – and in all those areas directly affecting the lives of the poor – the faithful, especially the laity, enjoy broad freedom of activity”.
The Pope added: “No one can claim to speak ‘officially’ in the name of the entire lay faithful, or of all Catholics, in matters freely open to discussion. On the other hand, all Catholics, and indeed all men and women, are called to act with purified consciences and generous hearts in resolutely promoting those values which I have often referred to as ‘nonnegotiable’,” he said, in reference to the obligation to protect human life and to support the traditional family.
Pope Benedict told members that because their confederation was able “in a certain way to speak and act” in the Church’s name, Caritas had “particular responsibilities in terms of the Christian life, both personal and in community. Only on the basis of a daily commitment to accept and to live fully the love of God can one promote the dignity of each and every human being.”
For Catholics, “charity is understood not merely as generic benevolence, but as self-giving” designed to help each and every person come to know the love of Christ, he said.
As a global confederation helping millions of people in dozens of countries each year, Caritas is increasingly influential, the Pope said, and he thanked the global body for being an advocate of “a sound anthropological vision, one nourished by Catholic teaching and committed to defending the dignity of all human life”.
Pope Benedict said that without recognising that human beings were created by God and are called to eternal life, “we risk falling prey to harmful ideologies” that do not advance the good of the whole human person because integral development includes the person’s spirituality and eventual salvation.
At the meeting regional representatives of the Caritas executive committee confirmed the election of Michel Roy, director of international advocacy for the French Catholic charity Secours Catholique, as secretary-general.
A 56-year-old father of two, Mr Roy studied economics and Oriental languages at Sorbonne University. He began volunteer work with Southeast Asian refugees for Secours Catholique in 1976.
Addressing the assembly after the vote, Mr Roy said: “I’m very moved by this. I’d like to thank Lesley-Anne for the work she’s done so far and also all of you for the work that you do for this network which reflects the hopes of the poor to build a better world.”
Chris Bain, Cafod director, who was at the assembly, said the meeting was “an opportunity to discuss and put into action better ways we as Cafod can work together to serve the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable”. Editorial comment: Page 13
Cardinal Burke withdraws from London conference at last minute BY DAVID V BARRETT
MYSTERY surrounds the unexpected withdrawal of Cardinal Raymond Burke as the main speaker at a conference organised by Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice at Westminster Central Hall on June 18.
The Faith of our Fathers conferences, which began in 1996, have traditionally attracted high-profile speakers such as Mother Angela, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network. As prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Burke oversees the administration of justice in the Church. He was to have spoken on “The Restoration of Church Discipline and Evangelisation”. He has long been seen as one of the most outspoken US bishops and, since his elevation to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict last November, is one of the highestplaced officials at the Vatican.
Daphne McLeod, chairman of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice,
said that Cardinal Burke had been informed by “several devout and faithful people” that his speaking at the conference would be divisive because Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice “are too outspoken and don’t have respect for the bishops”.
“We’re whistle-blowers, and we have enemies,” she said.
She would not say who she thought had issued this warning, but said the impression was given that if the cardinal speaks, “because he’s so close to the Pope it’ll look as if he’s speaking for the Pope and attacking the bishops – which is crazy”, she said.
Cardinal Burke came to prominence outside the Church during the 2004 American presidential elections, when he publicly stated that Democratic candidate John Kerry and other Catholic politicians who supported legalised abortion should not be allowed to receive the Eucharist.
Bard was a Catholic, says Rowan Williams BY STAFF REPORTER
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE was probably a Catholic, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Speaking at the Hay Festival Dr Rowan Williams said: “For what it’s worth I think he probably had a Catholic background and a lot of Catholic friends and associates.”
Dr Williams said he was
“not trying to kidnap him for the tribal trophy wall”, but everybody at that time was some sort of Christian, and “there are things in his plays you can’t understand without understanding the notions of forgiveness and free grace.
“He wrestled with human questions and he ends up saying there is a great deal more to all this than some might think.”
Rock star’s girlfriend tells of conversion BY DAVID V BARRETT
AN EX-GIRLFRIEND of Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler has told of the trauma of her abortion over 30 years ago and how she is now a Catholic.
In 1975 Julia Holcomb was 16 and living with the rock star. When she was five months pregnant he persuaded her to have an abortion. She recalled that he sat next to her snorting cocaine during the procedure. Now she has been married for 30 years and she and her husband have six children of their own and are foster parents to another child. Together they became Catholics in 1992.
“The Catholic Church’s teaching on respect for life, as well as the sacrament of Confession, has brought me an even deeper level of healing and peace,” she said.
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