CARDINAL CASTRILLON AND THE IMPORTANCE OF ACN FOR THE CHURCH
The prefect of the Vatican's clergy congregation, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, underlined the vital contribution that is made to the universal Church by the International Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. The Cardinal was speaking at a meeting of the ecclesiastical assistants and national directors of Aid to the Church in Need in Rome. The meeting was organised to consider the the direction the charity should be taking in today's changing world.
Cardinal Castrillon called on the representatives of Aid to the Church in Need to "give a new face to history". The charity, he said, should be helping to shape the 140 countries around the world where it is helping "after the pattern of the Kingdom of God". Additionally, the Cardinal said, the promotion of reconciliation and solidarity should be the charity's aim, especially in those countries where inhuman ideologies and tendencies have deformed society. Speaking in the presence of the founder of Aid to the Church in Need, Father Werenfried van Straaten, Cardinal Castrillon said that the practical task before the charity was summarised in the call of its founder to "recognise and love Christ in the least of His little ones, and not to exclude even our enemies from this". This was our mission in these times, precisely because of the challenges posed by violence, oppression and terrorism. It was essential, he said, for Christian charities to carry out their activities in a spirit of charity and to be aware that "Christian charity is essentially different from any form of purely humanistic philanthropy.".
Cardinal Castrillon went on to say that the central tasks supported by Aid to the Church in Need - training priests, religious and lay pastoral workers, providing Bibles, liturgical and theological books, building and repairing churches, monastic buildings and seminaries and promoting the media apostolate - "go to the very heart of the Church". "The suffering of the Church is especially noticeable when the absence of the shepherds is felt", said the cardinal. As a result, the Church noted with "special joy" that the training of impoverished priests and religious was a priority for Aid to the Church in Need, for it was at the same time a response to the call of Pope John Paul II, who had described the priestly ministry as "unique, necessary and irreplaceable". Cardinal Castrillon called upon ACN to continue giving first place to the promotion of vocations to the priestly and religious life. For only if there are priests, he reminded them, can the Holy Eucharist be celebrated - the "enduring centre of the Church's life".
Another characteristic of Aid to the Church in Need was its loyalty to the Pope, the Cardinal said. This loyalty had been in evidence ever since 1947, when Pope Pius XII had called for a pastoral response to help the priests and Catholic faithful expelled from the communist regions of Europe and Father Werenfried had promptly responded to his appeal by founding his charity. It was for this reason that in 1984 Aid to the Church in Need had been raised by the Holy See to the status of a public association of the universal Church. Cardinal Castrillon urged the staff of the charity to carry out their work in a spirit of Faith. "Only the genuine believer", he said, "can give credible witness, and only the convinced helper can convince others; only a person who knows himself to be infinitely loved by Christ can overcome the barriers of doubt, insecurity and rejection which often stand in the way of an effective apostolate of charity."
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