2010 Annual General Meeting
of Populorum Progressio Foundation
THE HOLY FATHER’S CHARITY
FOR LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Two hundred and thirty
projects for the indigenous, mestizo and African-American
campesinos [poor farmers] of Latin America and the Caribbean have been
examined and 186 approved for 20 countries, totaling more then two
million U.S. dollars. This was decided at the Annual General Meeting of
the Administrative Board of the autonomous Populorum Progressio
Foundation. The meeting was held from 20 to 23 July in the Dominican
Republic and in Haiti. Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez,
Archbishop of Santo Domingo, welcomed the participants.
Taking part at this year’s meeting were Cardinal Juan Sandoval
Rodríguez, Archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, President of the Board;
Archbishop Edmundo Luís Abastoflor Montero of La Paz, Bolivia,
Vice-President of the Board; Archbishop Alberto Taveira Corrêa of Belém
do Pará, Brazil; Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza of Guayaquil, Ecuador;
Archbishop José Luis Astigarraga Lizarralde, of the Apostolic Vicariate
of Yurimaguas, Peru; Archbishop Oscar Urbina Ortega of Villavicencio,
Colombia, a new member; Msgr. Segundo Tejado Muñoz, an Official of the
Pontifical Council Cor Unum and Dr. Juan Vicente Isaza Ocampo,
Board Secretary in Bogotá.
Also taking part in the Board’s sessions was Msgr. Giovanni Battista
Gandolfo, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference’s Committee for
Charitable Interventions for the Third World.
The Foundation, established by Pope John Paul II in 1992, intends to be
a sign of the Pope’s charity for the indigenous peoples, campesinos
and African Americans of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Administrative Board has seven members: six are Bishops from various
Latin American countries and one comes from the Pontifical Council
Cor Unum. At the beginning of the meeting the various social,
political and ecclesial situations of the nations represented in the
pastoral context of the whole continent were presented, with a special
focus on the situation in Haiti. The 230 projects presented in 2010 by
Latin American and Caribbean Dioceses were examined thoroughly. The
result was the approval of 186 projects for 20 countries totaling U.S. $
2,091,500. They will be funded by the Italian Episcopal Conference
through the Committee for Charitable Interventions for the Third World,
the Foundation’s chief sponsor.
Another 10 projects submitted by Haiti will be funded directly by Cor
Unum with donations received for this purpose. The projects approved
aim to respond to the different requirements in various sectors:
production, community infrastructure, education, health care and
This year various Haitian dioceses presented projects for the sinking of
wells and the construction of reservoirs: the Diocese of Jérémie, for
example, requested funds for the Cayemite Islands for building three
reservoirs to collect rain water with the goal of eradicating many
infections among the child population that are caused by the shortage of
drinking water. Most of the projects aim to benefit the indigenous and
rural peoples, for example, the request for a tractor for 60 families of
the rural community of Laoinha, in the Brazilian Diocese of Goiás.
This year’s visit to Haiti by the entire Board on 22 July was the most
important event. Planned prior to last January’s earthquake, it became
an opportunity to ascertain the damage sustained on the spot. Haiti has
always been a special concern of the Populorum Progressio
Foundation; indeed, since 1993 it has funded a total of 150 projects in
this country. The visit also afforded an opportunity to pray at the
graves of Archbishop Miot of Port-au-Prince and of Msgr. Benoît, Vicar
General, who lost their lives in the earthquake.
In the capital the Delegation visited the ruins of the Major Seminary
and of the Cathedral, accompanied by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the
Apostolic Nuncio, and Bishop Joseph Lafontant, the diocesan
administrator. Cardinal Sandoval presided at the celebration of Mass in
one of the Church’s camps, with a large number of priests and crowds of
the faithful. Benedict XIV’s Message was read during the Liturgy.
Together with the Pope’s Message, the Pontiff’s gift of U.S. $ 250,000
was presented for rebuilding of the School of Saint François de Sales in
Port-au-Prince. Bureaucratic problems made it necessary to change the
school designated and to postpone the presentation of the donation.
In his special Message the Holy Father invited the Haitian people to
hope and said that the Church, united with those who are suffering the
most, will not cease to make her presence felt through her relief
agencies and organizations: “Six months have already passed since the
earthquake that devastated your Island, and the Pope wants to remind you”,
he wrote, “that he has not forgotten you. He always remembers your
anguish and knows of the suffering and difficulties you must face in
order to rebuild your homes, your cities and your lives”.
One of the major problems being tackled at this time is certainly that
of housing and the need to find a solution for the hundreds and
thousands of people who are living in tents and temporary camps.
Security problems and moral and human problems are increasing in these
places that are not suited to dignified family life.
“The spectacle of the SUVs of the various humanitarian aid agencies,
making their way through the jammed streets in the capital”, Msgr.
Tejado of Cor Unum explained, “with their different colored flags,
made us think of the witness the Church is called to give in such
circumstances: an incarnated presence united with those who are
suffering, over and above projects, strategies or the funds received”.
“The true humanity of the Church”, the Official of the Dicastery for
Charity continued, “consists in giving that ‘something more’ of which
Pope Benedict XVI speaks in his first Encyclical Deus caritas est. The
Pope reminds us that ‘those who work for the Church’s charitable
organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely
meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others
with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of
their humanity’ (n. 31a).
“In the spirit of the Pope’s words the Pontifical Council Cor Unum
– as the Dicastery that coordinates the various Catholic aid agencies –
together with the Apostolic Nunciature, organized a meeting for the
various agencies in Haiti, in addition to which several ‘Caritas
branches’ from Europe and America were present”.
On this occasion Cardinal Sandoval was able to thank the Holy See on
behalf of these institutions for all the work they do in collaboration
with the local Church, recalling that this “style of presence” must
characterize and hearten those who work in the Church’s charitable
The last visit was to the offices of Caritas Haiti, where Msgr.
Tejado, on behalf of Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, President of Cor
Unum, consigned to its director a donation of U.S. $ 50,000 from the
Pope as a contribution to the demanding work this institution carries
out. Msgr. Tejado emphasized that the way forward must be marked by
recognition of the importance of the local organizations, their
reinforcement and fruitful collaboration with those who come to lend a
hand in this difficult period. Responsibility and a lead role in the
future depend on the people of Haiti, as does the education of the new
generations: it cannot be imposed upon them by anybody.
Once the emergency is over, humanitarian aid must not stand in the way
of the integral development of peoples since the Church always looks to
the common good, that is, to the integral development of the human being:
it is a proposal for the future in which the horizon of transcendence
must not be absent; seen as it truly is, it must satisfy and bring
relief to human beings.
Published in L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English,
number 32, Wednesday, 11 August 2010, p. 3