World Youth Day 2011 - Caritas needs you
08 August 2011
By Caritas Internationalis secretary general Michel Roy
World Youth Day in Madrid this year, gives an opportunity for young people from around the world to celebrate and deepen their knowledge about their faith.
Young people are a powerful force in the world of Caritas. When a massive earthquake hit parts of Japan this year, many young people flocked to the devastated areas to offer their services as volunteers.
When Caritas launched the HAART for Children campaign to encourage the creation of child friendly AIDS medication, it was young people who sent in their letters from around the world to lobby governments and pharmaceutical firms.
And in Europe, school pupils do everything from baking cakes to fasting, to sponsored bike rides and even sponsored leg waxes to raise money for Caritas.
These young people don’t just provide a service, but they bring love, compassion and tolerance to their contributions to the work of Caritas.
This is undeniably a difficult time for younger generations. Unemployment and job insecurity is rife in many countries and it is difficult to start an independent life and a family under such circumstances. But the “Arab Spring” has shown how new generations everywhere can instigate change and can use new means to combat the old limitations of their societies. Through social networking sites, young people were able to mobilise themselves and make their voices heard and they started to break down the barriers of repression and injustice in their countries. They have a long road ahead but we must support their quest for change and greater social equality as we must support all those around the world who are striving for a better life.
At a time when the world seems darkened by economic crisis, social problems and instability, it is the young who bring fresh energy and who shine a light which can help guide us forward as one .
Pope Benedict’s message for World Youth Day, “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” urges young people to answer God’s call and to put their faith into practice through Gospel values and charity. By following Christ’s word, says the Pope, new generations will find solid foundations and the courage to face life’s difficulties.
I started my life at Caritas in France as a volunteer over 30 years ago. I was then a student and thanks to a long strike at the university I found myself at welcoming South-East Asian young refugees to France. They arrived by themselves and Secours Catholique / Caritas France helped them settle into their new lives. That experience is one of those that drove me to get involved in the Church’s response to poverty and which made me understand the importance of making a personal contribution to the difficulties of others.
I’d like to echo the Pope’s call when he says “the Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope.”
We hope that the people you meet and the experiences you have at World Youth Day will strengthen your faith and your resolve to face the future as a united generation.
Just as Caritas’s doors will be open to you in Madrid during World Youth Day, Caritas organisations in 165 countries around the world are waiting to welcome you. We are there for those of you who need help and support and who are facing the world alone but also for those who would like the opportunity to offer their services to the poor.
You are the future for the victims of earthquakes, migrants stranded at sea and for all those who are poor and vulnerable. Together with your brothers and sisters at World Youth Day, you have the chance to build firm foundations of truth and solidarity for all.