Caritas Internationalis hosts its fifth webinar on “promoting social justice through sustainable opportunities and building community resilience”. Focusing on the Latin America and the Caribbean, the webinar saw members of various Caritas organisations across the region describe the realities of their work.
By Francesca Merlo
Caritas Internationalis is hosting a series of online Conferences until December 12 marking the 70th anniversary of its foundation in 1951. The first four webinars were focused on Caritas work in North America, Europe, Oceania and Africa.
Today’s webinar, titled “Promoting Social Justice through Sustainable Opportunities and Building Community Resilience”, was dedicated to Latin America and the Caribbean. Speakers during this webinar especially highlighted the efforts made by Caritas in this region with regards to recent natural disasters, the fight against poverty, the commitment to protect the common home. Space was also given to recalling the history of Latin American martyrs.
The first Ecclesial Assembly
The first person to speak was Marta Petrosillo, director of communication of Caritas Internationalis. Her greeting was followed by that of the Secretary General of the Confederation, Aloysius John, who opened the webinar by expressing his closeness to the people of Venezuela. He then recalled that on Sunday the first Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean opened in Mexico City, with a Mass celebrated in the Basilica of Guadalupe, presided over by Monsignor Miguel Cabrejos, president of the Latin American Bishops’ Conference (CELAM). Throughout the the webinar, iparticipant also pointed out the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon region, which took place in the Vatican in 2019, opened new paths and bore new fruits.
Representing Caritas Latin America and the Caribbean was its President, Archbishop José Luis Azuaje Ayala, who highlighted that deep inequalities and serious violations of human rights are occurring in several states in the region. The Archbishop, who heads the Archdiocese of Maracaibo in Venezuela, dwelt in particular on the crisis in his country. Millions of people live in poverty, he said. Sixty-three per cent of Venezuelans who emigrated to Colombia and Brazil left their country out of hunger. More than five million Venezuelan migrants live without any documents in the countries they have travelled to, continued Monsignor José Luis Azuaje Ayala. “One cannot waste time with political negotiations”, one must intervene “with urgent solutions in the short term”, not only for Venezuela, the Archbishop . He concluded his address by warning that the general situation in Latin America is difficult and that immediate solutions are needed to tackle the scourge of poverty. “Funds must be channelled in the best possible way and above all, as the Pope emphasises, solidarity must be promoted”, he said.
Solidarity enriches us
Speaking on behalf of Caritas Uruguay and the Formation and Spirituality Team was Rosa Ramos, who underlined that “solidarity enriches us”. Reflecting on Pope Francis’ Encyclica Fratelli tutti, she said, “We are called to a personal and social conversion. We need others, and our neighbours, and we must reflect on the fragility of men and women”. Rosa Ramos’ thoughts then turned to the extraordinary moment of prayer held on 27 March 2020, in which the Pope stressed that we are all in the same boat. “And on this boat”, Rosa Ramos added, “we are not all in the same condition”. We must therefore learn to live solidarity authentically: we are all fragile but together we can weave a network that humanises society, she concluded.
The mission of being
Service is the meaning of mission, said Archbishop José Luis Azuaje Ayala as he spoke, underlining the guidelines for Caritas action. In doing so, he recalled a passage from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “My mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of my life or a badge I can take off; it is not an ‘extra’ or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. Finally, the president of Caritas Latin America and the Caribbean said that the phrase “My mission of being” is concretely witnessed by the many volunteers serving works marked by fraternity and charity.
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