MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS
HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL,
MELBOURNE, FOR THE FIFTY YEARS OF CARITAS, ON WEDNESDAY, 20TH AUGUST 2014 AT
Brothers and Sisters,
The Gospel we have just read is the second
part of Our Lord’s priestly prayer for his Apostles. It is an invitation to unity with Christ and
to belief in him, which applies to those who are with Jesus now and in outreach
to those who are to be brought to know and love Our Lord.
The story of Caritas is really one of
Gospel outreach to people from all countries.
In 1897 Laurens Worthmann founded the first Caritas. This was encouraged in the twentieth century
by Giovanni Battista Montini, who was to become Pope Paul VI, and in 1954
Caritas Internationalis was officially recognised.
In 1956 Caritas responded to the
Hungarian Uprising and membership quickly spread throughout Europe, North and
Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Oceania. Caritas began here in Australia in June 1964
as the Catholic Overseas Relief Committee.
It came about when nations under colonial control were struggling for
independence and people were becoming increasingly aware of issues needed to be
confronted to create a just world.
By 1965 the Bishops were encouraged to
initiate the national Lenten appeal which has become known as Project
Compassion. Remarkable figures such as
Archbishop Oscar Romero who urged us “aspire not to have more, but to be more”
were creating a far greater awareness.
As the agency developed it began to
see that responding to emergency situations was only a small part of the
response to poverty. It focussed more on
human development and programmes which built community self-reliance. It gave its partners the space and encouragement
to make their own decisions giving support and developing an international
exchange of ideas rather than dictating terms.
Caritas Australia helps the poorest of
the poor in over 35 countries around the world and is part of an international
network comprising over 200 countries and territories. Last year Project Compassion raised over
$11,000,000 for the world’s poorest communities, breaking its own record and
ensuring thousands of families a guaranteed life-changing support.
Caritas is now one of the largest
humanitarian fundraising campaigns in Australia, empowering disadvantaged
communities to tackle the structures of poverty and take control of their
future. As an organisation that unites
people, that recognises the receiving countries as full-time players in the
decisions of what is to be done for their own development and therefore for
their own future, Caritas has been a remarkable force for good, for renewal and
for development in the world of today.
This morning we thank God for Caritas
and we become alert to the possibilities of what we can do in relationship with
our brothers and sisters in so many countries.
The present strategic directions of Caritas challenges us to make a
greater impact on the lives of the poor and to give them a voice to tell their
own stories so that we can see that our generosity is not merely a monetary
donation, but is making a real difference in the lives of these people. In that way they will know Jesus Christ and
we, as the Church, are making a contribution without preference for race,
colour or creed; a truly Christlike vision that sees those who work with us as
truly brothers and sisters.
May the love of Christ, his
self-giving, inspire us as Christians to give of ourselves and to have a vision
of a world with people developing their full capacity and potential and being
drawn to take hold of their future.
Thank you for your goodness, your prayers and your encouragement.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.