Pilgrims from every continent flocked to Rome in 1950, declared a Holy Year by Pope Pius XII. The year was marked by five great exhibitions that were to demonstrate to visitors from all over the world the work of the Church.
One of them was on the activities of Caritas organistions in helping people caught in conflict. The Caritas exhibit was opened by Mgr. Giovanni Battista Montini, Substitute Secretary of State.
This was before the Caritas confederation was formed. The Vatican had long wished to see closer international cooperation among as many Catholic charities as possible.
In 1951, a meeting of the leading Caritas associations was initiated, again, by Mgr. Montini. At the start of the convention, Montini proposed the creation of an “international organism” for managing cooperation between individual Caritas’s. His address would form the basis of a new set of statutes for a new organisation that would go on to become “Caritas Internationalis”.
Mgr. Montini would go on to become Pope Paul VI.
The great light
“When we fight poverty and oppose the unfair conditions of the present, we are not just promoting human well being; we are also furthering man’s spiritual and moral development, and hence we are benefiting the whole human race.
“For peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect form of justice among men.”
Pope Paul VI
“For us, Paul VI was the great light,” said Pope Francis in June.
As Pope Paul VI is beatified on Sunday 19 October, Caritas remembers a great champion of social justice, a builder of peace, author of landmark Church teachings Populorum Progressio and Evangelii Nuntiandi and our founding father.