Caritas ‘springs from the heart’
Patricia Burke, archdiocesan director of Caritas, with Fr Mark Raper and Jack de Groot, national director of Caritas
“Caritas gives with heart,” said the former international director of the Jesuit Refugee Service.
“Caritas for me is grass roots, it goes to the root causes and it springs from the human heart, from compassion.
“Caritas is grass roots in its membership here and in its worldwide network on the ground in places in need.
“This network is built of the fibre of human solidarity. Caritas goes to the root causes; it asks why is there disadvantage, conflict and human need.”
He said the Catholic aid and development agency “stands head and shoulders over other agencies in competence, in the quality of its local partners, its generosity to those in need, and in its determ
ination to go to the root causes of poverty, conflict and inequalities”.
“Caritas encourages us to look beyond our backyards and hear the stories of people in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, North Korea, Iraq and the Great Lakes of Africa,” he said.
“Caritas comprises 154 national relief, development and social work agencies in 198 countries and territories throughout the world.
“This federation commands more personnel, a greater budget, and a broader public involvement than any agency of the United Nations, indeed of several UN agencies together.
“Because of its network of local partners, Caritas is close to people in need, it responds quickly to changing conditions and it stays when other agencies leave. For example, Caritas Iraq, supported by Caritas Australia, continues to work with the Iraqi people despite the exodus of other NGOs and UN bodies.”
Fr Mark added: “Caritas acts from compassion. What is the point of the Gospel story of the rich man and Lazarus?
“The point of that story is that the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. What is the point of the Good Samaritan story?
“The point is that three people saw what was wrong, but only one was moved with compassion. The Samaritan was moved by compassion for the other, and so he did something.
“The Gospel challenges us to, ‘be not afraid’, to be people of justice and compassion, to love our country not by supporting its fears, but by summoning it to the grace which God shines on us.”
Fr Mark said Pope Paul VI had stated clearly: “If you want peace, work for justice.”
And Pope John XXIII had said 40 years ago in his encyclical Pacem in Terris that peace is built on four pillars, truth, justice, love and freedom. These pillars are the mantra of Caritas workers.
Guests at the luncheon included the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell; the NSW Governor, Prof Marie Bashir; the NSW Premier, Bob Carr; the Archbishop of Hobart, Archbishop Adrian Doyle; the Bishop of Broken Bay, Bishop David Walker, and the executive director of schools in the archdiocese, Br Kelvin Canavan.