Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, President of Caritas Internationalis Credits: Caritas/Carofei

Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, President of Caritas Internationalis Credits: Caritas/Carofei

“This is one of the most gratifying experiences, looking at the amount of good that can be done through solidarity among peoples.”

Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga has said that solidarity with the poor is vital to the work of Caritas as he marks the first anniversary of his election as president of the network of 162 national charities.

“This is a long road that has been made by doing good around the world. And this is one of the most gratifying experiences, looking at the amount of good that can be done through solidarity among peoples,” said the Cardinal.

Cardinal Maradiaga saw the importance of solidarity on the ground when he visited Peru following a massive earthquake last year.

“I was really amazed when I arrived at the warehouse of Caritas and I saw the amount of young men and women who were devoting their time just to help – this was really, really beautiful,” he said.

The Cardinal recently accepted the Order of “El Sol del Perú” from the Peruvian Government in recognition of his and Caritas’s solidarity with the survivors of the Peru earthquake.

Speaking about the award, the Honduran Cardinal said that hope was one of the characteristics which helped the people of Latin America face their suffering.

The Cardinal said that people need that hope more than ever because despite economic progress, there is increasingly an unequal distribution of income. He said that the work of Caritas can help by acting as “a beacon of hope” that strengthens people’s faith when they are in difficulty.

Cardinal Rodríguez has been pushing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the top of world leaders’ agendas. Along with the Bishops’ Council of Latin American and local pastors, the Cardinal recently presented a letter to German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, at a Peru poverty summit which urged them to allocate more funds to development and to achieving the MDGs.

As the Cardinal prepares to travel to Australia for World Youth Day in July, he emphasised how young people can play a vital role in achieving greater social justice and equality in the world, especially with the support of the Church and organisations like Caritas.

“We are expecting a lot of good from the youth,” says the Cardinal. “They have trust in the Church and they have hope in the Church and our challenge is to fulfil their hopes.” (Listen)

* Note to editors: the transcript of the full interview is available on request.