1999: In the year dedicated to God the Father in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and also celebrated as the Year of Charity, concrete acts of love and sharing to "show to the people of our time Christ, who died and rose for the salvation of every human being ... the hope shining on humanity's horizon".
- Donated by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" on the Pope's behalf was: US $1,211,600 in aid to peoples struck by disasters; US $555,000 in support of projects for human and Christian promotion;
- the initiative "100 Projects of the Holy Father" accounts for about 20 million US dollars for more than 200 projects in the area of spiritual and corporal works of mercy - the aid donated by numerous Dioceses of industrialised countries and Catholic relief organisations for Dioceses in various developing countries;
- 700 million lire from the initiative "Panis Caritatis" and donated for projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Sudan;
- US $705,900 were allocated by the "Populorum Progressio" Foundation to fund 215 micro-projects to assist poor indigenous and mestizo communities and African-American farmers in Latin America;
- US $5,500,000 were allocated by the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel to combat drought and desertification in the nine countries of that region.
These interventions must be added to those of care by the particular Churches in the exercise of the Diaconate of charity which the Pope also expresses in other ways, for example, the aid donated directly by His Holiness at personal meetings with Bishops, ROACO, and the Pontifical Mission Societies (Propagation of the Faith, St. Peter Apostle and the Holy Childhood), which in 1998 gave US $189,618,000 in assistance.
THE CHARITY OF THE HOLY FATHER THROUGH "COR UNUM"
Among the principal tasks of this Dicastery is the implementation of special projects desired by the Holy Father in response to disasters or to encourage the integral promotion of the human being.
1. NATURAL OR MAN-MADE DISASTERS
Again this year many countries were struck by disasters or were the scene of widespread ethnic conflicts. The Dicastery, which has received from the Pope a specific mandate to execute a special mission, gave all these disasters constant attention. Among these special missions should be mentioned the visits by Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, President of "Cor Unum": to the Dioceses of Armenia and Pereira in Colombia (12-13 February) struck by a serious earthquake; to Albania (31 March - 2 April) to support the Church's assistance to refugees from Kosovo with whom he celebrated Easter; to Macedonia (22 April), again with reference to the problem of refugees from Kosovo; and to Kosovo itself (2-3 October) to the city of Prizren. Meeting with Bishops, religious, and representatives of local and foreign Catholic organisations for relief and assistance and with the civil authorities were all useful moments of dialogue so as to encourage an effective co-ordination of initiatives.
Where it was not possible for the Dicastery to carry out a mission, an effort was made, nonetheless, to express the solidarity and closeness of the Holy Father and the Church to those most in need of moral and material assistance, by the allocation of a symbolic contribution and by a prompt visit from the Papal Representative.
The following table gives a summary of the aid distributed by "Cor Unum" in the name of the Holy Father during the past year.
These contributions were made possible by the generosity of Dioceses, even poor ones, which offered their Lenten collections to the Holy Father and his charitable intentions, by religious institutions and by individual members of the faithful. In each of these cases the contributors were sensitive to the needs of people struck by various disasters and reduced to poverty, and offered the Pope their witness of fraternal sharing with those most in need.
2. HUMAN AND CHRISTIAN PROMOTION
"Cor Unum" attentively follows the programmes of human and Christian promotion, which are carried out by Church and Religious Institutions and Associations of the Faithful through: courses of professional and spiritual formation, religious assistance to refugees, the establishment of health care centres and dispensaries for the sick, especially the poor, and other concrete initiatives. The Dicastery also encourages, moreover, the strengthening of weak social and charitable structures in developing countries, which because they are at the grassroots level, can offer prompt and effective assistance. When the generosity of the faithful allows it, "Cor Unum" supports these activities with symbolic contributions.
The following table lists the gifts of the Holy Father through "Cor Unum" for human and Christian promotion.
3. SPECIAL INITIATIVES
In conjunction with the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, four special initiatives, in embryonic stages since December 1995, have in a particular way marked the life and action of this Dicastery. These four are the following:
1. "100 Projects of the Holy Father"
2. "Panis Caritatis"
3. World Congress on Charity
4. Testimonies to Charity with the Holy Father
3.1 "100 PROJECTS OF THE HOLY FATHER"
The purpose of the initiative was to promote in the faithful a deepening of the knowledge and practice of the seven Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. The Dicastery identified Dioceses in economically developing countries and requested that they draft concrete project proposals. Upon receipt of the projects, "Cor Unum" proposed them to the Dioceses of the industrialised countries for the necessary financing. In addition, several Catholic relief and assistance organisations enthusiastically accepted the invitation to propose, in the context of the initiative, several large and important projects for which they would assume responsibility. The result was favourable. The Dioceses of countries of the developed world, especially of Italy, United States, Canada, Australia and Belgium, have funded micro-projects valued at approximately 3 million dollars while Catholic Organisations financed large projects totalling approximately 18 million dollars. At this point more than 200 projects have been funded. The Dioceses receiving funds and the benefactor Dioceses frequently have remained in contact, through a type of twinning. The donor Dioceses wished to verbalise their generous gesture with brief and significant comments such as: "It is a tangible way for the faithful of our Diocese to prepare to celebrate the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 in conjunction with 1999, the Year of Charity"; "We are glad to be able to share with others the Blessings which God has wished to bestow on us". The Dioceses that benefited also wished to express their particular gratitude, e.g. "We feel truly privileged by the fact that our programme for the advancement of women was chosen as part of the 100 Projects of our Holy Father in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000"; "We thank you very sincerely for this magnanimous act of charity to our marginalised people. Now our poor people and street children feel they belong to the Keniota people". The projects are in the phase of implementation.
3.2 "PANIS CARITATIS"
A company producing a special flour mixture called "bread of the world", desiring to participate in some concrete way in the Jubilee, proposed to the Dicastery that it would dedicate a portion of the income of its sales in Italy to the Charity of the Holy Father. This was to be in support of projects for human promotion in countries most severely struck by the scourge of hunger. This initiative came to be known as "Panis Caritatis" and invited families to consume a certain type of bread whose shape symbolises ecclesial communion and sharing. In fact, a central circle is surrounded by 12 pieces of the loaf. This obviously symbolises Christ and His Apostles, as well as the outreach of Christ's love toward humanity. Thus the breaking of bread, that bread in particular, in the family and in the community was a constant reminder of the duty to show solidarity to our needy brothers and sisters. One of the first results of this initiative (seven hundred million lire) made possible the realisation of significant projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the construction of ovens for the baking of bread), in Rwanda (rebuilding homes) and in Sudan (aid to people afflicted with hunger).
With the co-ordination of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", this initiative will be extended in Italy throughout the year 2000 and is about to be launched in other countries including Poland, Chile, Mexico, Spain and Portugal.
3.3 WORLD CONGRESS ON CHARITY
In 1995, the Dicastery invited all the Episcopal Conferences to promote a deepening of the theological virtue of charity in their respective countries and to implement concrete programmes for the effective exercise of charity. Various local Churches informed this Dicastery about their specific undertakings which include: planning of seminaries, specific catechesis, and the establishment of collections for special programmes of domestic and international solidarity.
The Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", on its part, had already made known that it was organising a World Congress on Charity, under the theme, "And Above All These Put On LOVE - Many Forms Of Poverty, One Single Response". It was held at Domus Pacis in Rome from 12 to 15 May 1999, with participation of about 200 people, including theologians, experts, representatives of 70 Catholic organisations, religious institutions, associations and movements involved in the area of social and charitable assistance from the five continents. Interventions of a theological nature on the roots of charity and its motivations alternated with reports on socio-charitable activities and direct accounts of charity practised. The purpose of the Congress was in fact to contribute to giving new life to the theological virtue of charity. The acts of this congress, published in Spanish and English, can be requested from the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" (Piazza San Callisto 16 - 11053 - Rome; tel. +39 06 698 87 331; fax: +39 06 698 87 301; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
3.4 TESTIMONIES TO CHARITY WITH THE HOLY FATHER
The World Congress of Charity ended, as planned by "Cor Unum", with a solemn meeting of the "Testimonies of Charity with the Holy Father" in St Peter's Square on Sunday, 16 May 1999. In His homily during the Eucharistic Celebration and in the recitation of the "Regina Caeli", the Pope addressed a special message of gratitude and encouragement to the world of volunteer workers, who had assembled from various countries and from throughout the regions of Italy. About 40,000 people were present, belonging to more than 200 volunteer associations and organisations, secular and religious. Before the beginning of the celebration several concrete accounts of charity experienced were presented by two Rwandans (a Hutu and a Tutsi), by two Irish people (a Catholic and a Protestant), and by a Palestinian and a Jew. A touching and moving testimony was that given by Sr. Nirmala, successor of Mother Teresa of Calcutta as Superior General of the Missionary Sisters of Charity. The Holy Father emphasised in particular that charitable action must first of all be a witness to the love of Christ, with these words urging workers in the area of charity: "Show to the people of our time Christ, who died and rose for the salvation of every human being without distinction of race or culture! He is the hope shining on humanity's horizon."
4. ACTIVITIES OF TWO FOUNDATIONS
Two foundations operate under the care of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum". The first, the "John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel", was established by the Pope in 1984. It functions autonomously. The Dicastery ensures that the Statutes are respected and safeguards its patrimony. A representative of "Cor Unum" participates with the status of Observer of the Holy See on the Administrative Council which meets annually in one of the nine member countries. The second, the "Populorum Progressio" Foundation was created by the Holy Father in 1992. It functions so as to support community projects of the indigenous peoples, African Americans and the poorest mestizo farmers in Latin America and the Caribbean. The President of "Cor Unum" is also President of this Foundation, while a representative of the Dicastery is a member of its Board of Directors. "Cor Unum" also safeguards the Foundation's capital.
4.1 "JOHN PAUL II FOUNDATION FOR THE SAHEL"
The Board of Directors met this year in Banjul (Gambia) from 1 to 7 February 1999. The Secretary of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", Msgr. Karel Kasteel, took part as Observer. Present also were the representatives of the German Bishops' Conference and the Committee of the Italian Episcopal Conference for Charitable Activities to benefit the Third World. These two Episcopal Conferences are the Foundation's two "great benefactors". The German Conference, in fact, provided the initial capital of the Foundation. The Italian Conference supports the major portion of the projects. The Foundation's capital is also increased by donations from individual benefactors.
At this year's session the Board of Directors appointed His Excellency Bishop Séraphim Rouamba, Diocese of Koupela in Burkina Faso, as its new President and His Excellency Bishop Maixent Coly of the Diocese of Ziguinchor in Senegal as its Vice-President for a three-year term. The Board also appointed Fr. Fulgence Coly as the new General Secretary, replacing Fr. Kusiele Dabire Der Raphaël.
The Board of Directors examined 60 large training projects and 149 implementation projects. The overall cost of the projects approved amounts to US$ 3,600,000. The Board of Directors also made available to the Projects Committee the sum of about US$ 1,900,000 for smaller projects. The primary concerns of the Foundation are for the formation of community leaders and staff who are specialised in the struggle against drought and desertification as well as immediate and concrete projects so to supply water and thus improve farming and conditions of hygiene in the villages.
4.2 "POPULORUM PROGRESSIO" FOUNDATION
The Board of Directors met in Manizales, Colombia, from 12 to 14 July 1999. His Excellency Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes took part as the Foundation's President and Msgr. Francisco Azcona San Martin, Under-Secretary of "Cor Unum", as a member. Also present was a Delegation of the Committee of the Italian Episcopal Conference for charitable activities to benefit the Third World, with observer status. This Conference is the most important benefactor of the Foundation whose capital is increased by donations from individuals and several religious institutions.
The Board of Directors examined and approved projects in different Latin American countries. The following table summarises the projects.
These are micro-projects formulated and implemented in the communities of the indigenous and poor farmers. A vast majority of them concern the improvement in agriculture farming, fisheries, poultry and swine rearing facilities, the professional training of young people and women, the formation of community leaders, the reconstruction of farm houses and community centres damaged by disasters (Hurricane Mitch, earthquakes, floods), the commercialisation of agricultural products and the improvement of hygiene.
5. DIRECTORY OF SOCIO-CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS IN THE CHURCH
In December, the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", after consulting all Episcopal Conferences in order to collect the necessary data, published in book form as well as a CD-ROM, the fifth edition of the CATHOLIC AID DIRECTORY (CAD). This is a directory which includes more than 1,100 organisations, associations and international and national institutions working in the socio-charitable field. The nature of each is given (whether it co-ordinates, finances or offers services, etc.), the areas of its activity are identified, the geographical regions in which it operates, and the types of the projects it supports. The CAD intends, at the same time, to be a witness to the many and varied initiatives which have arisen within the Church to express Christ's love for the indigenous, the poor and those suffering in body and soul, and to be an instrument for encouraging co-ordination and effective employment of available resources. The CAD can be requested by organisations, associations, Catholic Religious Institutes from the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" (Piazza San Callisto 16, I-11053 Rome: tel. +39 06 698 89411; fax: +39 06 698 87 301; e-mail: email@example.com), upon payment of US$ 25 for the book and US$ 15 for the CD-ROM version, which serve as a contribution to the expenses of production and mailing.
Today Lent begins, an important season offered by the Church to the faithful in order to call to mind again and meditate upon the coherence of one's own witness of Faith, Hope and active Charity. The Holy Father wanted to address a special message based on Christ's promise to his Apostles, to the Church and to all people of good will: "I am with you always, to the close of the age". With this certainty we are called to work courageously in our daily personal and community life, marked by God's love revealed in Christ, overcoming the barriers of egoism so as to open ourselves to the needs of our neighbour and of suffering humanity.
8 March 2000, First Day of Lent