Archbishop of Tokyo Msgr. Kikuchi president of Caritas Internationalis
Elected by the General Assembly of the confederation of charitable bodies of the Catholic Churches worldwide. His first words, "On the front lines to welcome, accompany, serve and defend the poor and vulnerable." Bangladeshi layman Benedict Alo D'Rozario confirmed as president of Caritas Asia.
Rome (AsiaNews) - The General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis - currently underway in Rome - last night elected Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo as the new president of this confederation, which since 1951 has brought together 162 charitable organizations of the Catholic Churches around the world.
For the next four years, therefore, it will be another Asian prelate who will pick up the baton of Card. Luis Antonio Tagle, former archbishop of Manila and now pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, who has been president of Caritas Internationalis since 2015.
Archbishop Kikuchiu - who is also president of the Bishops' Conference of Japan and secretary general of the Federation of Bishops' Conferences of Asia (Fabc) - takes on this position at a delicate stage for the life of Caritas Internationalis: last November, Pope Francis, in a measure suggested by the dicastery for Human Development in the face of problems that had emerged within the general secretariat, had ordered a "temporary commissioning" for the body, entrusted to layman Pierfrancesco Pinelli.
"Caritas," the Archbishop of Tokyo said yesterday, addressing the 400 Caritas delegates from around the world, "must be on the front lines to welcome, accompany, serve and defend the poor and vulnerable. This mission must be sustained and be the focus of the members of the Confederation, and I would like to be the one, together with the secretary general (who has yet to be appointed ed.), to lead the entire organization to fulfill this important mission of the Church. We are all invited to walk together."
Born in Iwate on Nov. 1, 1958, Msgr. Kikuchi is a missionary of the Verbiti congregation. Ordained a priest in 1986, he carried out the first years of his ministry in Ghana, Africa, where he was a parish pastor in a rural area for eight years.
He began working with Caritas in the 1990s in Africa as a volunteer in the refugee camp in Bukavu, then Zaire. He then returned to his home country and served as executive director of Caritas Japan from 1999 to 2004.
Later appointed by Benedict XVI as bishop of Niigata, he served as president of Caritas Japan from 2007 to 2022 and in this capacity coordinated the solidarity interventions deployed by the church body during the triple catastrophe of March 11, 2011, when a devastating earthquake, the subsequent tidal wave and the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant sowed death, destruction and fear in a large area of the country. He has also served as president of Caritas Asia since 2011.
Picking up his baton in the latter role in 2019 was layman Benedict Alo D'Rozario, former executive director of Caritas Bangladesh. D'Rozario, who is 66 years old, was renewed in confidence by the 24 charitable bodies of the Asian churches at the ongoing Assembly in Rome, so he will serve for another four years as regional president.
"I was surprised to be elected - said archbishop Kikuchi to AsiaNews -. I was planning to leave this morning, after someone became the president. So it was quite difficult to understand what was going on last evening in 3 votings".
"Caritas is the service of the Church being a witness of care, love and unity based on the Gospel. It should be a professional international humanitarian aid agency but, at the same time, it should proclaim the good news of Jesus through its actions. It should create hope and not disappointment. It should be means of unity but not of disparity. It should promote synodal church involving everyone. No one should be excluded and no one should be forgotten".
"Caritas Internationalis - added archbishop Kikuchi - could be considered being in difficult time of its existence. So I have to try my best to create unity among members of the confederation. And I need everyone to walk and work together".
(Nirmala Carvalho cooperated)
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