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Wednesday, February 1, 2012
EUROPE : CAFOD 5O YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
By: Peter Jennings, Jo Siedlecka
IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT:
Bishop John Arnold, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, with CAFOD director Chris Bain, before the Mass
"Although so much has been achieved we can never be complacent. There remains much to be done. One billion people still live in abject poverty" - Bishop John Arnold.
More than 2,500 CAFOD supporters from across England and Wales gathered at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday afternoon for a special Mass of Thanksgiving to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of CAFOD.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols was principal celebrant. The Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini was present and more than 18 bishops and 30 priests concelebrated.
As people entered the Cathedral before Mass, images from each decade of CAFOD's history were shown on screens, and words of welcome were given by Chris Bain, Director of CAFOD.
He thanked the congregation for their support and said: "I hope we can recommit ourselves to building a just, peaceful and sustainable world.”
The readings were given by Mildred Neville, a former trustee and Anne Marie Coppock, manager of CAFOD Salford.
During his homily, Bishop John Arnold, Chair of CAFOD Trustees, described the modest origins of CAFOD in 1958 - when four Catholic women organised the first Family Fast Day, which took place in 1960. He said: "It exceeded all expectations, so much so that in 1962 the bishops of England and Wales used their project as the foundation for the new Catholic Fund for Overseas Development, which was brought to life in 1962 at the meeting of the bishops in Rome, at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council."
The charity now has a budget of £58m and supports projects in 46 countries. Bishop John said the understanding of 'charity' has changed since CAFOD was established. Besides providing food and medicine for the poorest people, and emergency aid in times of humanitarian disaster, it also focuses on development, "allowing people to create their own sustainable livelihoods; giving people a voice so that governments may be called to account for their policies and their actions, both in their domestic and foreign affairs and allowing for the exposure of what can be the ruthless pillaging of natural resources by multi-nationals with no thought of benefit for the people of a region - so often the root causes of poverty."
Bishop John described some of the projects he has visited as a Trustee of CAFOD. In the Congo he met groups of women survivors of sexual violence, now running their own thriving business as tailors and dress-makers for their wider community. In Sri Lanka he spent a day handing out door keys to new homes for people who had lost everything in the tsunami.
More than 90% of parishes in the UK take part in Family Fast Days, Bishop John said. He praised the hundreds of projects in school supporting CAFOD, and the many thousands who have campaigned with CAFOD against unjust trading systems, for debt cancellation of poor countries, and for establishing that vital 0.7% of GDP of Government spending on development each year.
Referring to the Gospel reading where two disciples are described walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus after the Crucifixion, in a state of great desolation, before they are met by the Risen Lord - Bishop John said: "Our world faces a continuing toll of humanitarian disasters but the Lord walks with us, too, and there can never be the moment of despair."
Bishop John went on to quote St Paul who described the Church as one body. "When one part of the body is sick, the whole body is unwell. Those who live in comfort, with security and plenty, are part of one and the same body with those who are dying of hunger and the relentless suffering of poverty. CAFOD speaks of 'Just One World', a recognition that we belong to one another."
CAFOD's work with partners is based on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching: Compassion, Dignity, Hope, Partnership, Solidarity, Sustainability and Stewardship, he said.
The first purpose of the day was to give thanks for the work of CAFOD, Bishop John said, but, "The second purpose must be one of entrusting the future to God's goodness.. Although so much has been achieved we can never be complacent. There remains much to be done. One billion people still live in abject poverty."
The Intercessions were read by Julian Filochowski, former Director, Cathy Corcoran, former International Director and Denise Carter, former Communities and Supporters Director.
During the Offertory, the Icon of Mary the Magnificat, a Romero Crucifix, sheaves of maize and a paddle were brought up to the sanctuary - each representing an aspect of CAFOD's work.