Christ's love to the suffering
Holy Father's charitable acts in 2001 through the Pontifical Council "Cor
15 July, the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", established by Pope Paul VI in
1971 with the Apostolic Letter Amoris officio (impelled by the duty of
love), celebrated its 30th anniversary. To commemorate the event, the Council
prepared a book entitled Ars Caritatis, which contains:
The Letter establishing the Council;
Pope Paul VI's addresses to the members attending the Council's Plenary
Pope John Paul II's addresses to the Plenary Assemblies of "Cor Unum";
Pope John Paul II's homily at the Eucharistic celebration of the World Day of
Charity (16 May 1999);
The Holy Father's Message to the Witnesses of Charity, gathered in St Peter's
Square on the Day of Charity (16 May 1999);
The Holy Father's address to the members of the Board of Directors of the John
Paul II Foundation for the Sahel and the Populorum Progressio
The Pope's Message to volunteers at the end of the International Year of
Volunteers (5 December 2001);
An article on the evolution of the Council in its 30 years of activity;
An article on the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel;
An article on the Populorum Progressio Foundation;
A glossary of the terms most widely used in the context of social and
book, published in Italian, Spanish, English and French, can be ordered
Consiglio "Cor Unum"
+39 06 69887301
both the Letter formally establishing the Council and the Addresses at the
special Audiences to the members of "Cor Unum" gathered in Plenary Assembly,
the Servant of God Paul VI and His Holiness John Paul II outlined the guiding
principles of "Cor Unum".
establishing the new Pontifical Council, Pope Paul VI wrote to Cardinal Jean
Villot, his Secretary of State: "We therefore think it opportune to set
up a special Council which would, so to speak, offer to all the People of God
the possibility of coming together to deal with the above-mentioned questions
concerning the promotion of human solidarity and development in accordance
with the unchangeable principles of the Gospel" (15 July 1971). On 13
January 1972 at the first audience Paul
VI held for the members of "Cor Unum", he repeated the concept in
a programmatic address: "The creation [of this Council] shows our
anxiety to keep alive and active among the People of God the law of charity
which summarizes the message of the Lord".
Paul VI called attention to the invitation given to the faithful in the
Letter of St James (Jas 1,19f.), to put into practice and transform
into works the law of charity; also, "an appeal that exhorts the Church,
gathered as the People of God, to be witnesses of this charity that, flowing
from the heart of Christ upon seeing the hungry crowds, spurred his disciples immediately to go to their aid" (cf. Amoris
officio, 15 July 1971).
the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus of 28 June 1988 on the reform
of the Roman Curia, Pope John Paul II
outlined the tasks entrusted to the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum",
"the Council show the attention the Catholic Church has for the needy, to
advance human brotherhood and make Christ's charity visible" (cf. Pastor
Bonus, art. 145).
these lines, the activity of "Cor Unum" has continued to grow in the past 30
years. In the last 15 years, particular attention has been paid to offering
the necessary services to the Catholic Organizations, which are engaged in the
field of social and charitable work, to avoid the secularization that
lessens the identity of Catholic charitable organizations, grounded in
faith and in their own members and workers' example. Engaged in this work are:
the Lenten Campaign of Europe (1997), the World Congress of Charity (1999),
promotion of the yearly Lenten Message of the Holy Father, the participation
in congresses that are promoted by the various university faculties of
theology on the themes of charity and development and meetings with Bishops
from all over the world on the occasion of their ad limina visit to
Rome. Also included is the
collaboration with the Caritas of
Poland throughout 2001, in preparing an
international congress of the directors of Caritas from
the nations of the world on the theme "The Identity of the Caritas",
held in Czestochowa during the first days of April 2001.
Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus sums up the responsibilities
entrusted to the Council: "to stimulate the faithful to give witness to
evangelical charity, since they participate in the same mission of the Church,
and to support them in their service"; "to favour and coordinate the
initiatives of Catholic institutions that are available to help the
poverty-stricken, especially those institutions that come to their aid in
emergencies and disasters ..."; "to follow carefully and coordinate
the programmes and works of fraternal assistance that aim to contribute to
human advancement". These
are the moments when a well-rooted faith "explodes" (permit me to
use this word) into love for neighbour. In the Audience of 8 April 1994 to the
members of "Cor Unum", the Holy Father recommended: "Modern technical
requirements and the best and most efficient organization should not allow
people to forget that structures have no other purpose than to be channels for
the charity of the People of God. Just as the ordinary faithful should not
lose interest in the activities they entrust to specialized agencies, those in
charge of these groups cannot claim to be independent masters of their
projects nor autonomous owners of their means. Moved by a generosity which I
acknowledge, they themselves are the servants of a charity that is called to
reflect the fraternal unity of the members of the People of God". The
practical testimony to the love of Christ, who who "went about doing good
and healing all" results from these converging synergies (Acts
of the Holy Father's charity
Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace was set by the Holy Father and observed on
14 December 2001, following the tragic terrorist events of 11 September and
the war in Afghanistan. In launching a strong appeal for the victims of
terrorism and war, the Pope entrusted "Cor Unum" with the responsibility of
distributing the offerings collected on this day to the neediest, especially
children, the elderly, women, the sick and the disabled.
response was overwhelming and
moving. Entire families, parish
associations, work communities, religious institutes and dioceses from all
over the world, above all in Italy, sent money saved on this day for the victims of the war. And donations
continue to come in. Currently, over 3,000 offerings have arrived for an
overall sum of about ; 1,800,000.
In France, the Catholic magazine L'Homme Nouveau undertook to publicize
the papal initiative. Over 600 readers sent the Holy Father a personal message
of support that the newspaper transmitted to "Cor Unum", which then informed
His Holiness. By a disposition of
the Holy Father, "Cor Unum", in the first months of this year, has already
sent $ 950,000 U.S. of aid to help Afghan refugees, victims of the war in the
Middle East, and Iraqi refugees, and set up a scholarship fund for a child
orphaned in New York by the terrorist attack. Another donation of $ 50,000
U.S. was sent to St Vincent's Medical Center in New York to help the victims
of the terrorist attack. On his recent Apostolic Visit, the Holy
Father donated $ 100,000 U.S. for the refugees in Azerbaijan.
29 November, in the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome, the Roman nobility
gathered with important members of the business community for a solemn Mass
to pray for peace and for the victims of terrorism and war. The
collection (over 10 billion Lit) that "Cor Unum" distributed in the name of
the Holy Father was given to help Afghan refugees.
conformity with the Letter for the establishment of "Cor Unum" (Paul VI, Amoris
officio, 15 July 1971), and in the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus
of Pope John Paul II, "Cor Unum" was able to distribute funds to support
projects designed to alleviate and rehabilitate the most vulnerable sectors of
the populations of different countries hit by disaster and war, so as to
foster their integral human advancement.
This was thanks to the generosity of believers and of the ecclesial and
religious institutes that entrusted to the Holy Father their collections out
of love for their neighbour in difficulty, in the different parts of the
1 and 2 show in brief chronological order the Council's contribution to the
emergency sector and to integral human advancement.
Table 1. EMERGENCIES
Table 2. AID FOR PROJECTS FOR HUMAN ADVANCEMENT
Paul II Foundation for the Sahel
up by John Paul II in 1984, the Foundation continues its work, to combat
drought and desertification in the nine countries of the Sahel region and to
train specialized personnel for this work. In the yearly meeting held at N'Djamena, Chad, from 4 to 11
February, the Board of Directors allocated funds for 230 projects for a total
of $ 1,974,305.00 U.S.
Table 3 shows the distribution of the projects.
Table 3. DISTRIBUTION OF PROJECTS
Environment; A1) Agriculture; A2) Livestock raising B0)
Animation; B1) Self-Promotion; C0) Water Supply; D) Health
Care; E) Technical training ; F) Other.
; F) Other.
financing of the projects was made possible by the generous contribution of
Italian Catholics, and was handled by the Committee of the Italian Bishops
Conference for Charitable Contributions to the third world, and by 90% of the
interest generated by the invested funds of the Foundation.
They were the result of an earlier collection taken up in Germany on the
occasion of the Pope's Apostolic Visit in 1980.
French Catholics have also made a generous contribution.
foundation Populorum Progressio
22 February 1992 Pope John Paul II set up the Foundation on the occasion of the
fifth centenary of the Gospel's arrival in South America. Its goal is to favour
the integral human development of the impoverished Indigenous, Mestizo and
African-American rural communities of Latin America and the Caribbean.
the annual meeting held in July in the Cobán, Guatemala, the Foundation's Board
of Directors, under the presidency of Archbishop Fabio Betancur Tirado of
Manizales, Colombia, approved 216 projects for a total of $ 1,773,700 U.S. The
President and Undersecretary of the
Dicastery were present at the session. The Undersecretary is a member of the
Board of Directors and the President of Cor Unum is the President and Legal
Representative of the Foundation. Limited resources did not permit the
Foundation to satisfy fully all the requests that were submitted. There were 294
requests for the sum of $ 2,912,113.00 U.S. Table 4 offers a picture of the
may be said that the Italian faithful supported the Populorum Progressio
Foundation and John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel equally.
Table 4. FOUNDATION'S CONTRIBUTION
to disaster-stricken areas
duty of the members and those responsible for "Cor Unum" towards those suffering
from disaster and war, or from the many forms of poverty, is not confined merely
to making financial contributions.
have been two large-scale emergency situations whereby the Holy Father, after
having made strong appeals for international solidarity, wanted to show his
concern for the populations in the worst plight.
first mission was to the peoples of El Salvador in Central America, who were hit
by a violent earthquake. From 23 to
27 January, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, President of "Cor Unum", was able to
meet the Bishops, the representatives of the local and foreign relief
organizations, and to make an on-site visit to the earthquake victims.
The Archbishop not only brought the Holy Father's sympathy and
encouragement, but he also entrusted to the President of the Episcopal
Conference an offering of $ 100,000 U.S. to bring relief to the victims.
Another $ 50,000 U.S. was sent by "Cor Unum" in February.
Archbishop Cordes thanked the representatives of Catholic Agencies on
behalf of His Holiness during the meeting, and emphasized how Christian
solidarity, inspired by the charity of Christ, is the characteristic that
distinguishes their work.
second mission dealt with the tragic consequences of the terrorist attack of 11
September in New York and the War in Afghanistan. From 25 to 30 October, the President of "Cor Unum" was sent
by the Holy Father to Pakistan, where a large number of Afghan refugees had fled
to the borders to escape the massive bombing.
He met with seven Bishops, representatives of local and foreign Catholic
Organizations that offer emergency aid to refugees, and with about 40 men and
women religious who represented the missionaries on-site.
He was then received in audience by General Musharraf, Head of State, who
expressed the country's and his own appreciation for the great efforts made by
the Pope for peace, as well as for the active presence of Catholic institutions
among the most deprived. Archbishop
Cordes, in the name of the Pope, entrusted to the President of the Episcopal
Conference an initial contribution of $ 200,000 U.S. for the relief needed most
the above-mentioned emergencies, others can be listed that were caused by
disasters over the past years, and which continue to have a negative effect on
the stricken population. Examples are the situation in the Balkans and the
earthquake in Peru. Following his
visits to the ex-Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the President of
"Cor Unum" went to Belgrade in Yugoslavia from 4-6 June. Here he was able to meet the Bishops, the representatives of
the social charity organizations that work on the spot, together with the civil
authorities. The purpose of the
visit was to encourage the relief agencies to coordinate their action.
21 to 22 July, the President was in Peru, visiting areas hit by the earthquake.
Here he met with the Bishops, the representatives of the social charity
organizations, relief workers and groups of representatives of the population
hit by disaster.
The reactions to these visits show how the Pope's gesture in sending his own personal delegate helps to kindle in all those tried by suffering new hope and a feeling of genuine spiritual and material rebirth.
City, July 2002