Advent 2010: Christmas message
By Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, President of Caritas Internationalis
Jesus Christ came to us bringing a Christmas message of unity. This Advent, our message is that together, we can end poverty and bring about peace.
The earthquake in Haiti last January was a symbol of injustice. Poor housing, years of neglect and a lack of emergency services resulted in more suffering than there should have been and has made rebuilding more difficult.
Many survivors in Haiti have good shelter now, they are receiving food, health services, and a chance at a future because of the solidarity shown in the weeks after the quake through agencies such as Caritas and its supporters. More needs to be done in Haiti. It is difficult. But we will be there for the long haul until the job is finished.
We saw how conflict continues to cause suffering in 2010.
Over forty Christian worshippers in Baghdad’s Cathedral of St. Joseph were killed by terrorists in October. Christians in Iraq are facing obliteration. It is not because they are Christian that we are urging for greater protection, but because it is a basic human right of everyone. Christian or Muslim: all are hostage to violence.
Advent is the story of Mary, Mother of Jesus too. We must not forget that half a million women die in pregnancy and childbirth each year – one every minute. Girls in south Sudan have a greater chance of dying in childbirth than they do of finishing school.
South Sudan is one of the poorest places anywhere. It could get even poorer. War threatens to be one outcome of an independence vote there in January. We pray that the outcome is a better, more secure life for all people in Sudan, north and south.
For 60 years, Caritas Internationalis has exercised a preferential option for the poor, responding with love and action to human suffering in an unjust and unequal world.
During that time, we have seen great progress in poverty eradication, as well as in our ability to respond to emergencies. Despite all the progress that has been made, there are still more than a billion people living below the poverty line.
Our vision moving forward can be summed up in just four words: One Humanity, Zero Poverty. Whether it is Haiti, Sudan, or Iraq, the poor don’t just deserve our charity, they deserve the same rights to food, education, security, health, and livelihoods as everyone.
May the Christ Child bring joy to you all this Christmas and accompany us throughout the New Year