By Robin Gomes
The Catholic Church in India is focussing on sustaining life and promoting sustainable livelihood during Lent this year. Caritas India, the official development and social action arm of the Catholic Church of India, organizes the annual Lenten campaign each year.
During the 40-day Lenten period, that begins with Ash Wednesday, Christians especially give in to prayer, penance, fasting, abstinence and works of mercy in preparation for their most solemn feast, Easter or the Resurrection of Christ from death.
Lent, this year, began on Ash Wednesday, February 26.
The Apostolic Nuncio to India, Italian Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro officially unveiled this year’s campaign on Sunday, February 23, at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Delhi.
Hunger and disease
Part of Caritas’ flagship drive against hunger and disease, the Lenten campaign this year has as its theme, “Sustain Life, Sustainable Livelihood”. It invites everyone to join efforts in becoming catalysts, adopting the “Each one Help one” approach in reaching out to attain a sustainable livelihood.
Father Paul Moonjely, the executive director of Caritas India said that the reason behind the choice of the theme is the poverty that India is experiencing today. This, he told Vatican Radio, is because of the unemployment situation in the country and as well as the vulnerability of the poor sections of society to the frequent natural “disasters and emergencies”, which rob them of their livelihood and opportunities, leaving them in conditions of extreme poverty.
Sharing, caring, enabling
Fr. Moonjely said the campaign intends to create the Christian environment and spirit of sharing, caring and enabling among the believers. Referring to the Prophet Isaiah (58:6), the Caritas executive director said that the true meaning of Lent urges us to share our riches with the poor, our clothes with those who are without and our resources with the needy.
Caritas India, the priest said, takes empowering communities as a serious mission. Through the “collectivization of their existence”, he said, communities come and work together to “ensure their livelihood and opportunities” for their “survival and protection”.
Involving dioceses, parishes
Fr. Moonjely said that through its extensive network, Caritas intends to take this Lenten campaign to the dioceses. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has decided that the Lenten campaign will be launched in all the dioceses of the country on the First Sunday of Lent, March 1.
Materials and background information on the Lenten campaign are being sent to all the parishes, and a pastoral letter of the bishops is also being prepared to sensitize the local communities to contribute to the Lenten collection for the poor.
In this task, Fr. Moonjely said, Caritas mobilizes its numerous volunteers who are active in each diocese. They take the initiative of spreading the message of the campaign at the local level and in utilizing the resources to reach out to the needy and the poor through the national Caritas.