Pope Francis opens Caritas Internationalis General Assembly on caring for creation
(Vatican Radio) ‘One Human Family, Caring for Creation’ – that’s the theme of the Caritas Internationalis General Assembly which kicked off Tuesday in Rome. A press conference introducing the works of the 12-17 May Assembly was held in the Vatican Press Office. Pope Francis was to officially open the Assembly with a special Mass Tuesday evening at 5:30 pm local time in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Click here to follow the Mass live. Over the next five days, more than 300 delegates from around the world will lay out plans for the coming four years, aimed at improving the lives of those living in poverty and misery.
“Pope Francis has asked us to go to the ‘peripheries’ to help those in need,” said Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga. “During the Caritas Internationalis General Assembly, the peripheries will come to Rome to seek better ways to improve our service to the most vulnerable”.
Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga will officially open the event on 13 May at Domus Mariae Church Palace Hotel.
Guest speakers will include Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; theologian Fr Gustavo Gutierrez O.P; economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Dr Jacques Diouf, Special Envoy for the Sahel and the Horn of Africa; and Beverly Haddad from the University of Kwazulu-Natal.
Some fifty young people, volunteers, grassroots communities and campaigners against hunger will also be present.
“Inequality, migration, climate change, conflict, and the scandal of hunger are challenges facing Caritas and its mission to promote development and justice,” said Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis. “There are major opportunities coming up to work towards this goal, such as a new papal encyclical on human ecology, the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals and the COP 21 climate meeting in Paris”.
Key leadership roles will also be up for election. Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga will step down as president after eight years. Candidates for president are Archbishop Youssef Soueif, president of Caritas Cyprus and Cardinal Luis Tagle, Archbishop of Manila. Elections for the leadership will take place on 14 May.
After the General Assembly, Caritas delegates will go to the EXPO 2015 in Milan for an official EXPO Caritas Day on 19 May. The event is part of Caritas’ campaign ‘One Human Family, Food for All’ which aims to end hunger by 2025.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Michel Roy described the General Assembly as a unique moment to “celebrate who we are and what we do.” Mr Roy said that Caritas had prepared a 5 point strategic framework that would be discussed over the course of the meeting.
Michel Roy also explained that there will be a “new governance coming out of this Assembly” A new President of Caritas Internationalis will be elected as Cardinal Maradiaga will have completed the maximum two terms at the helm of the organization.
Listen to Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis: