"Together We": a wake-up call for the future of humanity
By Linda Bordoni
The urgent need to take action to change the course of the climatic and environmental crises that are undermining the future of the planet and of millions of people across the world is at the heart of a new global campaign launched by Caritas Internationalis.
Entitled “Together We – Act today for a better tomorrow,” the campaign was launched on Monday 13 December as the 162-member strong confederation that forms the Catholic Church’s global humanitarian network, celebrates 70 years of work serving the poor and promoting charity and justice.
In particular, as environmental issues increasingly impact peoples and communities, the campaign is based on the teachings of Pope Francis’ encyclicals Laudato sì and Fratelli tutti, urging us to care for our common home, reminding us that interconnectedness is key, highlighting the fact that no one can be saved alone.
A global crisis that demands urgent action
Speaking at the launch of the campaign on Monday, Paolo Beccegato, Vice-Director of “Caritas Italiana” pointed out that the crisis we are living in is a deep and serious one and that the causes of poverty, worldwide, are increasing at a frightening rate.
We live in a world, he said, in which there are 235 million people in need of humanitarian aid. That’s 40% more than last year. The international community, he added, has declared it can provide food and aid to only 160 million, leaving a gap of 75 million people who will not be reached by government support and assistance. The pandemic is teaching us a lot, Beccegato continued, pointing out that violence is also on a vertiginous rise with a 12% increase in armed conflicts in the last year alone.
“So yes: it is an emergency, and it’s a priority,” he said, but as Christians not only do we look to our brothers and sisters in need, we must heed the Pope’s reiterated appeals to look to the future for the next generations and to build a better post-pandemic world.
Caritas Internationalis looking to the future
Recalling Pope Francis’ words during the Angelus on Sunday in which he wished Caritas Internationalis good wishes for its anniversary, describing it as “a little girl that needs to grow and get stronger,” Secretary-General Aloysius John, reaffirmed the mission of Caritas to be “in the world” and “in dialogue with the world,” always reading the signs of the time with the core belief that the poor always deserve the best.
“That’s why its new campaign asks us to take action for a better tomorrow,” he said, noting that it is the organization’s third global campaign. And just like the first two, it responds to where we are and what action needs to be taken at this time in history.
The 2013 “One Human Family – Food for All” campaign was launched in response to the scandal of hunger and a culture of waste; the 2017 “Share the Journey” campaign was dedicated to promoting an encounter with growing numbers of people on the move, fleeing poverty, war and marginalization.
Today, he said, the keywords are water, food, land, ecosystems, human dignity, and Caritas is determined to promote a future in which ecology and concern for our human family go hand in hand.
A wake-up call
We cannot ignore, John continued, the fact that “today there are over 800 million people who are suffering from hunger, are marginalized and live in highly unstable situations.”
The “Together We” campaign, he explained, “is a call to deepen our listening, be sensitive and give what we have. It demands that we ask ourselves the question ‘How can I promote change? How can I change myself?’ it’s a wake-up call for action at all levels,” starting from individuals and small communities, and it goes all the way up to multinational companies and organizations, political leaders and decision-makers.
What is important, John said, is that it calls for concrete action, encouraging a culture of care and a renewed commitment.
“Our key message is: together we must and can work to protect and care for our common home and all humanity,” he said, noting that throughout the 3-year campaign “Caritas will be there to challenge decision-makers, to raise the voice of the poor.”
John spelled out the aims and milestones of the campaign, saying that the first year will be dedicated to raising awareness, the second to turning it into concrete action, and the third to celebrate action across the whole confederation and beyond.
"Together we can!"
Other key speakers at the event included the Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State Francesca Di Giovanni, the President of Caritas Oceania, Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi and Caritas Internationalis Communications Chief, Marta Petrosillo.
The presentation was followed by a round-table discussion focusing on how to continue the Caritas journey in synodality, tackling root causes, challenging decision-makers, never neglecting the link between social justice and environmental justice.
Concluding, the key message was: “Together we can!” We can Act, We can Pray, We can Care, We can Walk Together for a better tomorrow, bearing in mind that poverty, hunger and exclusion are not a fatality: They can change if we are ready to change!