By Odiwuor Opiyo
PRETORIA, JULY 22, 2022 (CISA) – “Caritas should be a sub-structure of the Parish Pastoral Council, supported by a priest, local structures and report to PPC. It should not be just taken as any NGO in the parish or Diocese, but the integral part of the Mission of the Church in today’s world,” said Rt Rev Stanislaw Dziuba, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Umzimkulu, South Africa, in his message during the virtual Annual Assembly of Caritas South Africa held on July 20.
This, he said, about Pope Benedict’s XVI Apostolic Letter, ‘On the Service of Charity,’ which he wrote in Art. 9. – § 1. ; “The Bishop is to encourage in every parish of his territory the creation of a local Caritas Service or a similar body, which will also promote in the whole community educational activities aimed at fostering a spirit of sharing and authentic charity. When appropriate, this service is to be established jointly by various parishes in the same territory.”
According to Bishop Dziuba, Caritas should be an integral part of Parish life just as the proclamation of the word of God and administration of the sacraments since Pope Benedict in Deus Caritas, Est 25 avers that the nature of the church is expressed in threefold responsibilities that presuppose each other and are inseparable; proclaiming the word of God, Celebrating the sacraments as well as exercising the ministry of charity.
“It is the continuation of the Mission of Jesus, who was anointed and sent to preach the Good News to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and the recovery. Those who serve in Caritas mission must be first and foremost ‘true witnesses of Christ’,” he said.
The Annual General Meeting is a platform through which all stakeholders in the country assess responses as Caritas at different levels, and rediscover the vision, mission and specific identity of Caritas.
“We ask ourselves what is the nature and identity of Caritas? Is it the organisation, like any Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), or is it the church – who is LOVE- Caritas,” the prelate quipped, pointing out that, “Since 2017, when Bishop Duncan was appointed the President of Caritas South Africa – has started the official process of developing and promoting of Caritas as the Charitable Arm of the Catholic Church in the Communities…”
The bishop further reflected on the daunting year it has been especially after disasters of floods affected parts of the country, particularly, the Kwa Zulu Natal region, bringing so much suffering with people losing their jobs, their homes and entire livelihoods and the war in Ukraine negatively impacting the cost of living and creating instability; commodity prices escalating and an increasing shortage of basic goods.
“These crises situations revealed as well the heroic service of Caritas and other Church’s institutions, associations and individuals to those in need, but also the vulnerability of CARITAS structures, networking, communication and ways of responding to emergency situations,” he said.