By Lesley-Anne Knight, Secretary-General, Caritas Internationalis
In combating poverty and injustice, our Caritas members know they can achieve more together than separately. Our name Caritas Internationalis means “love between nations”. Our work and our confederation are an expression of solidarity between peoples.
During this past year, the need to work together has been underlined by the increasingly global nature of the challenges we face. Whether we are talking about the economic crisis, climate change, conflict or natural disasters, solutions can only be found through collaborative effort.
Our work in supporting the efforts of the poor to improve their own lives continued against a backdrop of severe climate-related disasters, conflict in 30 countries and the onset of a global recession.
The increasingly interrelated nature of humanitarian and development work can be seen throughout the whole range of our Caritas activities.
Caritas launched its “Grow Climate Justice” campaign, showing how climate change contributes to keeping poor people locked in poverty and calling for a just deal at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009.
The impact of climate-related disasters on the poor was tragically illustrated in May 2008 when a huge cyclone struck Myanmar. Caritas responded immediately, delivering desperately needed food to tens of thousands of people within weeks.
The Myanmar disaster underlined the value of Caritas as a grassroots organisation, working with the support of an international network able to muster huge collective resources and coordinate them to maximum effect.
Our emergency response work was recognised when Peru awarded Cardinal Rodríguez its highest honour following the 2007 earthquake.
2008 highlighted the challenges ahead, but demonstrated what can be achieved through commitment to a coordinated and cohesive approach.
If we are to continue to deliver for the poor on emergencies, migration, climate change, peacebuilding, pandemics and economic justice, we will need to further develop our strength as a global confederation, founded on the rock of our shared values, and sustained by “God’s love that has flooded our inmost heart” (Romans 5.5).