File photo of Cardinal Michael Czerny File photo of Cardinal Michael Czerny 

Cardinal Czerny to Caritas: Forgive and unite to serve in love

Cardinal Michael Czerny encourages members of the Church’s international confederation of charities – Caritas Internationalis – to work together in service to people in need, as its General Assembly gets underway in Rome.

By Zeus Legaspi

The Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Michael Czerny, celebrated the opening Mass on Thursday evening for the General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis, taking place in Rome on 11-16 May.

In his homily, Cardinal Czerny urged Caritas members and volunteers to put love at the forefront of their lives, encouraging them to “remove vanity” and the “desire to put ourselves above others.”

The Cardinal delivered his homily in St. Peter’s Basilica almost six months after Pope Francis issued a decree removing the top leaders of the Church’s humanitarian outfit in a move to “improve its management rules and procedures.”

“Listen to the gentle invitation – to encounter, to gather, to forgive, to unite, as you have been struggling to do these last five-and-a-half months. All this rooted and grounded in love, in the caritas which is your name and mission and mystery,” said the Cardinal.

He explained that every organization, even ecclesial federations, goes through times of conflict and struggle when it is “not hard to keep track of wrongdoings.”

“Love forgives and excuses every offense, to that we let the Father’s love embrace us. Love ‘keeps no records of wrongdoings,’ Paul criticizes the wrong kind of bookkeeping,” he added, citing St. Paul’s Hymn to Love.

‘Love is forever’

Cardinal Czerny also told Caritas Internationalis members to remind themselves of the mission that they have received from the Church, saying that charity and love go hand in hand.

“As Caritas, in making that loving and generous gift, you must remind yourself, as the Holy Father says, of the mission that you have received from the Church itself,” he said.

“It is a difficult path, to be sure, but surely worth taking—with one another, in love for the poor, and in union with the Church,” the Cardinal added.

Cardinal Czerny explained that charity is the most “sublime” way to know God and understand the Christian faith and that even the most generous service means nothing without the virtue of love.

“Love is what makes us ‘to be’. When we embrace God’s love and love as God loves and remain in God’s love, we understand the meaning of our own lives,” the Cardinal said.

“Love is forever, here and hereafter, and so Jesus tells us this is where we must ‘remain’,” he added.

Threefold task

Cardinal Czerny closed his homily with a reminder of the Caritas Internationalis’ threefold task – to proclaim the Gospel with good works, to exercise the commitment to charity of their local Church, and to seek unity.

“Help the lay people carry the Church’s message of love into the political, social, and cultural realms,” he urged.

“Love, love, love. Continue to be that Society of Love for all our siblings, everywhere, always,” the Cardinal said. 

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11 May 2023, 16:27