Cardinal Rodriguez Christmas 2009 Message
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2009 has been a year of moving stories as people sought something better for their families and communities against a backdrop of poverty, hardship and conflict.
Our hopes for a peace were dashed before the year began with conflicts raging in Gaza, Congo, and Sri Lanka. In Gaza, a young teenage girl called Aya spoke about how her father had died in her arms after a bomb hit their home. His last words were about how blessed he was to have shared the love of his family.
We heard stories about the effects of violenc against women like that of Lakeisha from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who had found sanctuary and a sense of worth in a Caritas clinic after being repeatedly raped along with her daughter by soldiers.
In Sri Lanka, Baby S was born with a piece of shrapnel in her leg after her mother had been wounded in the tummy in a bomb attack. The beautiful baby is a telling symbol of the blind brutality of war.
We heard their stories and we also lived through the suffering ourselves. A Caritas clinic was destroyed by warplanes in Gaza and a Caritas worker was murdered in Congo. Caritas stuck by the people in Sri Lanka’s war zone to the end. “How could we leave them?”, staff said. “We are their light showing that a better reality is possible.” One member of staff was killed and the local director lost his limbs in an attack.
Caritas was also at the heart of the response to earthquake and tsunami victims in Indonesia and the Pacific Islands of Samoa and Tonga.
Pope Benedict XVI offered a fresh vision in his new encyclical Caritas in Veritate of economics, politics and society based on our shared duty to care for humanity and the environment.
Once more extreme weather caused suffering to the poorest, this year in West and East Africa, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Climate change talks in Copenhagen must be part of a reconnection with nature. The answer to the crisis lies in a revived sense of solidarity and a realisation that we all have a duty to work towards the common good and a responsibility to be stewards of God’s creation.
Caritas is about transforming lives - both of the poor to whom we lend a hand and of the people who work, volunteer or generously support our mission for social justice.
For us, Caritas is a sign of the love of God for all humanity. Caritas gives witness to God’s love among us, a love for all people and especially for the poorest.
Let’s look forward to 2010 empowered by this love – a love that we see reflected everyday in the small moments of human beauty that conquer the suffering and bring light to the world.
May the Christ Child bring joy to you all this Christmas and accompany us throughout the New Year.