Rome (AsiaNews) – "The Lord's mandate is to bring the Gospel to the entire world,” said Card Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the outgoing president of Caritas Internationalis, which is currently holding its 20th general assembly in Rome.
“With 60 per cent of the world’s population in Asia, the Holy Father has naturally turned his attention to Asia,” the prelate told AsiaNews, “not to proselytise, but to share what we have, as he said so well in Evangelii Gaudium.
Today, the delegates are set to pick Mgr Maradiaga’s successor, after eight years in office. During his two terms, Caritas Internationalis "has grown in every respect, from the admission of new members to the implementation of programmes and its responses to humanitarian emergencies".
To illustrate this, the prelate noted that, “a vote was [recently] held to admit South Sudan, which is now full-fledged member, and the Holy See granted Caritas its legal personality". At the same time, “almost all of the programmes have been implemented, like the great campaigns against hunger.”
Yet, for him, “the really nice thing was to see the great spirit of collaboration among the different organisations. At every emergency, every branch responded as one; in serious emergencies like Haiti, Japan, Chile, and Pakistan floods; not to mention, the never-ending refugee crisis in the Middle East."
In view of this, the cardinal had nothing but praise for certain national organisations, like "Caritas Iran, Lebanon and Syria, which have played a leading role in various conflicts from the beginning, and continue to help and serve the people tirelessly."
Caritas Internationalis acknowledged this work last year by visiting some refugee camps and organising for the first time a meeting in Amman, Jordan, "just to be close to the many, many refugees from Syria, Iraq and the Middle East."
Going back to Asia, Card Maradiaga said that the Holy Father’s concern for the continent has meant in practice that “Caritas is active, with many members in Asia, and directly involved around the world.”
“Often, when there is a crisis, everyone rushes to help, but then forgets about it at the next crisis. What is happening in Nepal, a situation that greatly worries us, reminds us that one of our primary tasks is to never forget pain."