One Human Family, Zero Poverty
23 July 2012
By His Eminence Óscar Andrés Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, SDB, President
Cardinal Rodríguez re-elected president.
Caritas Internationalis marked the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the confederation in 2011. We were founded by 13 Catholic charities in 1951 to better coordinate the Church’s humanitarian work. The Caritas confederation has since grown to 164 members comprising the humanitarian relief and social development arms of national bishops’ conferences worldwide.
Today, Caritas members support millions of poor people in improving their own lives with local and international programmes ranging from disaster risk reduction, humanitarian response and reconstruction, peacebuilding and reconciliation, climate mitigation and food security, primary healthcare and education.
In all our work we cannot forget what we are about. The model for us as Caritas is the Good Samaritan. With his “heart which sees”, he saved a life and became the paradigm for our priorities.
Nothing can be more important than our duty to help people in need. Our mission is to serve and promote the poor and even more so the poorest of them first, inviting them to be the actors of their own development. This is our raison d’être and thus we are at the heart of the Catholic Church’s mission of diakonia.
For many people in need, Caritas is the loving face of Christ who brings relief and comfort, respect and recognition. As Caritas, we are called to witness His love and we do it with enthusiasm. We know that God is love and we know and believe that He has created ever y single person in his image.
One Human Family, Zero Poverty is more than just a slogan for our confederation. I t is the summary of our will to fight injustice and poverty. I t is a simple expression of our understanding of the world.
Yes, we are one family. We should not allow divisions, creating second and third and fourth worlds in our midst.
Zero is a starting point. From zero the positive and the negative numbers start. Zero can be conceived as a ‘condition of possibility’ for all the numbers. It’s an analogy for equality. We cannot negotiate about 2 percent or 20 percent of poor people. We can’t afford to lose one single person from our one human family without losing our own destiny. We would lose a brother or a sister.
Simplicity is a choice for all living as one human family. But poverty is dehumanising and cannot be accepted in our world. Where poverty is not chosen, but imposed by unjust structures and decisions, it affects the dignity of our brothers and sisters, who are all in their own right images of God.