COUNCIL "COR UNUM"
Christ's love to those in need
Holy Father's charitable activity
across the world for the year 2000
the Pope's name the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" donated
over 2.5 billion lire to the
victims of natural disasters and wars in 29 countries, about 2 billion lire for
human and Christian development. The Council donated more than 4 billion lire
for the development of poor indigenous, mestizo and African-American populations
America. Cor Unum also
the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel
about 6 billion lire to combat drought and desertification in countries
of the region.
year the exact date of the 30th anniversary of the Pontifical Council "Cor
Unum" for human and Christian advancement is 15 July. The priority of this
dicastery, established by Pope Paul VI with his Apostolic Letter Amoris officio
(the duty of love), is to harmonize the activities of the ecclesial
organizations, associations and groups involved in the field of social and
charitable assistance to people in countries hit by natural disasters and wars,
and human advancement in the developing countries. Paul VI's main concern in
this area was to encourage the most efficient possible use of the available,
although insufficient resources, in order to bear a faithful witness of
fraternal love, in the various circumstances in the light of the Gospel
same concern inspired Pope John Paul II to keep Cor Unum among the dicasteries
of the Apostolic See when he reformed the Roman Curia with his Apostolic
Constitution Pastor Bonus on 28 June 1988.
with the numerous natural disasters, the vast scale of peoples on the move
driven by conditions of extreme poverty, war and the ethnic clashes that have
become more and more widespread in the past 20 years, and the progressive
marginalization of the poor both in the developing and industrialized countries,
the commitment of ecclesial organizations, associations and groups has become
increasingly animated and professional and, here and there, goes beyond the
criterion of mere charitable aid. This task obviously required the professional
growth of their directors and workers, even if they are volunteers. This fact
has certainly exposed them to the risk of a secularization that threatens their
primary motivation to witness to God's love for man, incarnate in the person of
to a specific demand, on 27 November last year, Cor Unum arranged a meeting with
several ecclesial organizations, associations and groups, to reflect on the
identity and operational criteria of every Catholic agency involved in the
is also the context of the activity carried out by the Pontifical Council Cor
Unum during the Year of the Great Jubilee, as the instrument of the Pope's
charity for peoples struck by disasters, by the consequences of hatred that sets
members of the same people or of different peoples against one another, and in
support of projects for human and Christian advancement in the poorest countries
and, at times, also in those that are industrialized. The following tables offer
a simplified but significant summary.
Aid to countries stricken by disasters or war
as happens every year, numerous
disasters also struck peoples in various parts of the world in 2000, while
chronic emergencies resulting from the serious conflicts in past years have
continued to give rise to the immigration or emigration of refugees in various
areas. To mention but a few: the earthquake in the Philippines, the droughts in
Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia, the flooding in Peru, Mozambique, Venezuela,
Zimbabwe, North Korea, Italy and Viêt nam, the uprisings in several islands of
the Archipelago of the Moluccas and in Nigeria, the refugees from East Timor and
Kosovo, the refugees in Tanzania, the natural disaster in Mongolia, the war in
Afghanistan, the war and its consequences in the Congo, the Philippines and
Uganda, the cyclones in Madagascar, the refugees in Syria, refugees to and from
Sudan and Zambia, the persistent serious consequences of the nuclear accident in
Chernobyl, refugees to and from Eritrea. While we read these lines, the acute
wounds left on the peoples of El Salvador and India by the earthquake are still
serious and clearly visible.
Paul Josef Cordes, President of Cor Unum, was sent by the Holy Father to show
his personal concern and the care and closeness of the Church and the Apostolic
See for the peoples hit by the earthquake in Taiwan at the end of 1999 (11-18
January), for the flood victims of Mozambique (8-12 March) and of Val d'Aosta in
Italy (25 October). In the countries mentioned, he had the opportunity to meet
Bishops, priests, those in charge of relief agencies, volunteer workers and
civil authorities. Particularly moving, were the meetings with the afflicted
peoples, whereas the high point of his three visits was the Eucharistic
celebration with the participation of a great many people, to emphasize the
importance of the life of faith in every situation which must imbue the victims
and rescuers in a mutual embrace in the light of Christ's charity.
all the above-mentioned situations, the dicastery offered a concrete sign of
solidarity and fraternal support on behalf of the Holy Father. The following
table shows in chronological order the Pope's gifts that were allocated through
gifts were made possible by the generosity of certain Dioceses which, despite
their poverty, offered their Lenten collection for 2000 to the Pope's charity,
and by religious institutes, especially women's, as well as by foundations and
individual members of the faithful who wanted to offer the Holy Father their
testimony of fraternal solidarity to the neediest, who suffer in body and soul
the tragic consequences of natural disasters or those caused by human wickedness.
Support for projects of human and Christian promotion
Unum" did not fail to encourage and support the projects of human and
Christian promotion realized in various parts of the world by the initiative of
the particular Churches, especially through the action of religious institutes
and local Catholic organizations. Special attention was paid to the homeless,
the elderly, abandoned children, the sick, the disabled, the formation of
educators, schools, and spiritual and material assistance to refugees. The
dicastery expressed this attention with financial contributions which, although
symbolic in relation to the size of the real needs, often acted as an incentive
to continue generously on the way taken by the various agents.
The following list shows contributions made by "Cor Unum" on
behalf of the Holy Father during the Year 2000.
Here too, we would like to renew our sentiments of deep
gratitude to all the Dioceses, foundations, religious institutes and individual
benefactors who enabled the dicastery to give a visible sign of the concern of
the Holy Father and the Apostolic See to those who are suffering in body and
spirit the abuses of poverty, sickness, hardship and underdevelopment.
The allocation of funds collected from the
extraordinary project of "Panis Caritatis", promoted in Italy during
the preparation for the Great Jubilee continued. With these it was possible to
enlarge the programme of producing bread
ovens for Kinshasa and encouraging the opening of bakeries in Lodja,
Democratic Republic of the Congo, while also funding an infant and mother
health-care project in Guinea Bissau. The summary of the projects shows the
- Bread ovens project for Kinshasa Democratic Republic
of the Congo: US$: 99,750
- Infant and mother health-care project in Guinea: US$
- For Sudanese refugees in Uganda: US$ 57,750.
- Support for breeding small livestock in Kabgayi,
Rwanda: US$ 66,150.
- Schooling for poor orphans of Kabgayi, Rwanda: US$
- Equipment of a carpentry workshop in Kaemba,
Democratic Republic of the Congo: US$ 10,500.
- Bakery shop in Lodja, Democratic Republic of the
Congo: US$ 32,260.
- Total funds allocated by "Panis Caritatis"
until 30 December 2000: US$ 335,850.
announced, this initiative was extended to other countries: in Poland more than
30,000 loaves were sold, in Chile more than 1,300,000, in Mexico more than
500,000 and in Uruguay more than 98,000. The funds collected will be used to
fund development projects in the respective countries. The sums collected in the
countries mentioned depend entirely on the local Church's institutions. Here we
offer a simplified summary of the data they have provided on the use of the
money made by the project.
- Caritas Poland: for a social-assistance and
educational centre in Bize, Albania: US$ 5,750;
- Caritas Chile: for the poor in 25 Dioceses: US$
- Caritas Uruguay: social centres for poor children and
adults in six Dioceses: US$ 3,600.
Forthcoming data from Mexico is expected.
Under the auspices of the dicastery operates the John
Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, created by the Holy Father John Paul II in
1984 for the purpose of equipping the Church in the region of the Sahel with the
means to fight drought and desertification and the Populorum Progressio
Foundation, created by the Supreme Pontiff himself in 1992 to encourage the
human and Christian promotion of poor indigenous, mestizo and African-American
farming communities in Latin America.
This year, taking the opportunity offered by the Great
Jubilee, it was considered appropriate to convoke joint meetings of the
administrative boards of both Foundations. They were held at the Domus Sanctae
Marthae in the Vatican from 25 June to 1 July (Sahel) and from 2-7 July (Populorum
Progressio). On Tuesday, 4 July, the Holy Father received the members of the 2
councils together with the superiors and the personnel of Cor Unum. Reflecting
with them on "the value and meaning of the Church's work on behalf of the
very poor" and on the Church's awareness of not being able to meet every
need, the Pope said: "the Church does not intend to be merely an agency of
humanitarian aid; rather, she wishes to bear witness in every way to the love of
Christ, who frees human beings from all evil". In addressing the members of
the Foundation for the Sahel, the Holy Father, recalling the heartfelt appeal he
addressed to the international community from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to
support the peoples of the Sahel region who were the worst hit by drought and
desertification, he said: "20 years later, that appeal has not,
unfortunately, lost its timeliness: not only in the desert areas of North
Africa, but throughout the planet, the problem of water has become more serious
and urgent. Lack of water will perhaps be the main issue that humanity will have
to address in the near future. For this reason, national leaders should not fail
to adopt suitable measures for promoting equitable access to so precious a good
for all humanity ... we have a serious responsibility towards future generations,
who will demand an account of our efforts to protect the natural resources which
the Creator entrusted to mankind to be used with care and respect".
At their own meeting the board members of the John Paul
II Foundation for the Sahel, chaired by Bishop Séraphin Rouamba of Koupéla,
Burkina Faso, ratified and approved the funding of 312 small and large-scale
projects in the field of the training of personnel specialized in fighting
drought and desertification, for supplying water and for improving agriculture
and health care for a total of US$ 2,992,097.26. The following table illustrates,
country by country, the projects approved in the various sectors and the overall
amount of funds allocated.
A) Environment; B) Agriculture; C) Livestock raising; D) Animation; E) Self-promotion; F) Project management; G) Water supply; H) Health care; I) Technical training
The Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", as an
incentive to achieve the aims of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel,
deemed it opportune to foster relations among those in charge of this Foundation
and of MASHAV, an Israeli non-government organization particularly expert in the
discovery, preservation and use of water resources. To this end, the President
of "Cor Unum" has initiated direct contact with the Israeli Embassy to
the Holy See and visited some of the projects carried out by MASHAV.
The Board of Directors of the Populorum Progressio
Foundation, whose meeting was organized at the same time by the General
Secretary and by Msgr. Francisco Azcona, Undersecretary of "Cor Unum",
hence also a council member, examined 258 projects, deliberating on the
financing of 209, distributing a total of US$ 1,923,500,00 in 20 countries of
Central America, Latin America and the Carribean. The sessions were chaired by
Archbishop Fabio Betancur Tirado of Manizales. The first of the following two
tables illustrates the deployment of the projects approved for the various
countries and the total sum allocated for them, while the second gives a summary
of the project sectors.
The activity of the two foundations was made possible
by the generosity of the Italian Episcopal Conference, by the support of the
Papal Foundation and of religious institutes, associations and individual
members of the faithful, as well as by the income produced by their initial
capital. It is useful to recall that the initial capital of the John Paul II
Foundation for the Sahel was constituted with the sum collected by the Church in
Germany after the Pope's appeal from Ouagadougou on 10 May 1980, while that of
the Populorum Progressio Foundation comes from the fund of that name set up by
Pope Paul VI on 26 March 1969.
The above explanations of the various forms in which
the Pope's charity is expressed are not exhaustive. In fact, it would be
necessary to add the contributions allocated to the missions through the
Pontifical Missionary Societies, the aid granted to the poor of Rome through the
Office of Papal Charities and the material support that the Holy Father gives
directly to Bishops for the socio-pastoral action of the particular Churches.
With each of these acts, the Pope intends to show God's
love to the suffering, while he thanks each benefactor for accepting the
invitation to be a generous instrument and faithful witness of this love,
incarnate in Christ, responding with concrete actions of fraternal solidarity to
the appeals that come from all over the world.
Vatican City, 10 April 2001