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Pope Francis said in his homily to Caritas Internationalis “Whoever lives the mission of Caritas is not simply a charitable worker, but is a true witness of Christ..." Photo by Photo by Caritas/Elodie Perriot

Pope Francis during the opening Mass of Caritas’ General Assembly. Photo by Photo by Caritas/Elodie Perriot

In Mass celebrated for the opening of Caritas’ General Assembly, Pope Francis spoke of our responsibility to look after the planet and to feed the hungry.

Over 300 Caritas delegates from across the world were at the Mass celebrated by Caritas bishops and Caritas president Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga in St Peter’s Basilica.

Speaking in Italian of Caritas’ global campaign to end hunger, Pope Francis said during his homily, “We must do what we can so that everyone has something to eat, but we must also remind the powerful of the Earth that God will call them to judgment one day and there it will be revealed if they really tried to provide food for Him in every person (cf. Matt.25: 35) and if they did what they could to preserve the environment so that it could produce this food.” Read the homily here. 

The Pope spoke of Caritas’ campaign “One Human Family, Food for All” and encouraged people to “set the table for all” and said “Caritas sets many tables for the hungry”.

Speaking of the mission of the people who works for Caritas organisations, the Holy Father said, “Whoever lives the mission of Caritas is not simply a charitable worker, but is a true witness of Christ. He is a person who seeks Christ and allows Christ to seek him; people who love with the spirit of Christ, a spirit of gratuitousness and gift. All of our strategies and plans remain empty unless we carry this love in us.”

Earlier in the day, Caritas held a press conference at the Vatican to launch the 20th General Assembly of the Caritas confederation. Participants were Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationals; Michel Roy, secretary general; Dr Haridas Varikkotil from Caritas India and Fr Gustavo Gutiérrez OP, theologian.

At the press conference, Cardinal Rodríguez said, “Pope Francis has asked us to go to the ‘peripheries’ to help those in need. During the Caritas Internationalis General Assembly, the peripheries will come to Rome to seek better ways to improve our service to the most vulnerable”.

The General Assembly will officially open on 13th May with a speech by Cardinal Rodríguez, a plenary on a Church for the poor with Fr Gustavo Gutiérrez and as plenary on inequalities with the economist Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Prof. Beverley Haddad of University of KwaZulu-Nata.

For more information, please contact Michelle Hough on +39 06 69879721 / +39 334 2344136 or hough@caritas.va.