Cardinal John’s Newsletter 27 June 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

This evening at St Joseph’s Mt Victoria a Mass will be celebrated to give thanks for 50 years of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, (the Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development). In December 1965, Pope Paul VI promulgated the document, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World known as Gaudium et Spes. The very first sentence of that document said, “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men (and women) and this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the followers of Christ.” The Bishops of the time established the Committee for Catholic Overseas Aid, and Caritas grew out of that.

Today we give thanks for the amazing work Caritas has done over the past 50 years. It is also the chance to reflect on the challenge which belongs to all of us to reach out to the poor and underprivileged. It could be easy to think that Caritas is doing all the work and the rest of us don’t need to do anything. Pope Francis reminded those gathered in Rome for the Caritas Internationalis Meeting a few weeks ago; “For one who wants to follow the path of charity, humility and listening, it means turning an ear to the small ones.” Francis said. “In the world, those who have more speak more, but among us it cannot be that way because God loves to reveal himself through those who are small and last.” He is inviting all of us to listen to and care for “the small ones,” those who struggle in life.

It is important to remember that Catholic responses to poverty and injustice didn’t start 50 years ago with the work of Caritas, AND it does not end with Caritas, it is part of OUR mission. The Church’s mission of caring for the poor and working for justice is part of who we are, and is founded on:

  • The teaching and example of Jesus, who sought out the company of his society’s outcasts, who fed the hungry and healed the sick, and who identifies totally with the poor in saying, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.”
  • The Old Testament’s law and tradition which challenge us to make allocations from the harvest for the poor, (how do we apply that in 2019?) to care for widows and or-phans, to welcome the stranger, to ensure that workers are treated justly, the sustainable use of the earth.
  • There are the challenges of the Prophets who denounced injustice and called people back to being in right relation-ship with God and with each other.
  • We look too at the traditions and example of the early church, in their attempt to start a radical community in which no one was excluded, in which those who shared the Eucharist also shared their bread and their homes. (Acts 2: 42-47)
  • Saints and holy people throughout the history of the church, such as St Francis of Assisi who continues to provide a vivid example of listening to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
  • There are also the formal teachings of the Church, especial-ly those documents identified as Catholic Social Teaching, that rich treasure trove of teaching in which our moral teaching is applied to political and social questions.

Please continue to pray for the work of Caritas and reflect on how each of us can make it our mission too.

Every blessing
Naku noa
+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.