The Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the “agency of the Holy See responsible for orienting and coordinating the organizations and charitable activities promoted by the Catholic Church” (Deus Caritas est 32), is organizing Spiritual Exercises for the responsibles of the diocesan Caritas and other ecclesial agencies in the Continent of Asia. They will be led by Sister Nirmala Joshi, the successor of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and follow from the first such gathering in Guadalajara, Mexico, last June of some 500 leaders of the Catholic Church’s mission of charity from North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the course of his pontificate, Benedict XVI has sought to place the personal encounter with God as the source that inspires and motivates Christian life. This was undoubtedly the reason that moved him to focus his first major teaching document on “God is love.” To know and impart God’s love as revealed in Jesus Christ through the gift of self for the other constitutes the specificity of Christian charitable activity. Even with the current economic downturn, the generosity of people and their willingness to help is truly impressive. Yet, at the same time, Christians are convinced that, beside material assistance, human affliction needs a message of hope that only Christ can give through faith-filled witnesses. Hence, Pope Benedict’s call in His Encyclical for a “formation of the heart” of charity workers (n.31a) and Cor Unum’s initiative of Spiritual Exercises as a “school for deepening faith.”
In His address to the Pontifical Council’s Plenary Assembly last year, Pope Benedict expressed His wish that the Guadalajara experience “can be extended to other regions of the world” (29 February 2008). For Asia, where charity is especially important for the Church’s witness, the initiative seems to have struck a much-needed chord. Already over 400 responsibles of the Church’s diakonia from a plethora of charitable agencies, active on the local and national scene, throughout Asia, have registered for this unique experience to listen, pray and be formed in the heart.
Further details on the gathering, to be held at Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei (Taiwan), from September 6-11, 2009, may be obtained from the Pontifical Council Cor Unum (