After a whirlwind week of elections, strategic planning and many a joyful reunion, Caritas delegates from across the world went to the place of St Paul’s martyrdom to close the 2015 General Assembly.
Even though I’ve spent many years in Rome, I’ve never been to Saint Paul at the Three Fountains. It was there where three springs emerged in the places where St Paul’s decapitated head was said to have bounced. Three churches were built on the site in memory of the event.
In one of the beautiful but simple churches, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and new Caritas president presided over Caritas’s closing Mass. Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegulcigalpa and out-going Caritas president concelebrated along with others.
Cardinal Tagle’s homily focused on the feast of the Ascencion, which was celebrated on 17th May, the closing day of Caritas’ General Assembly. He spoke of how the Ascension helps us resurrect people’s dignity.
“If there is any power we should exercise,” said the Cardinal, “it’s the power of love and goodness.”
Magha, our Brazilian colleague from the Caritas Internationalis emergency department played the guitar during the Mass and Adriana from advocacy sang. The most moving moment for me though was when Irene, another colleague from emergencies sang Panis Angelicus. What an incredible voice! She kept that well hidden…
Earlier in the day, Cardinal Tagle address the 300-plus General Assembly for the very first time. He said: “When Cardinal Oscar told me my name was presented as a possible candidate I laughed. When I was told by other people I got scared. I thought ‘This is a plot’. Then it became real. I have to confess something, last March I was elected president by the Catholic Biblical Federation, then two days ago Michel (Roy, Caritas Secretary General) phoned me and said I had been elected president of Caritas. The Bible and love come together. There’s no love without the word of God. After meeting the various parts of Caritas… Wow I know love is real. I look forward to this collaboration with you women and men of the Church. Thank you for your trust”