Caritas South Africa held its 4th General Assembly on the 21st July 2021 in a meeting that was held online due to current covid-19 restrictions. Present at the assembly were various participants including the president of Caritas South Africa, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Caritas Internationalis Secretary General, Aloysius John, and Albert Mashika of Caritas Africa.
“Caritas is the instrument for enabling the Church in South Africa to find ever new and appropriate ways of responding to the changing situations of life among the people it serves, in particular the poor and needy,” said Cardinal Napier, in his opening remarks of his message. The Cardinal lamented the three day of satanic madness, the 10th, 11th, and 12th July, which saw “violence & looting on a scale never before experienced in South Africa, let alone the “New” South Africa!” His Eminence gave a reminder that our Christian faith leads us to see these changed circumstances as God’s way of urging us to make sure that “Caritas is not seen as an optional extra, something set up as a devotion or a badge of honour. No!” He said rather, “Caritas is and must be a necessary and essential instrument for the Church to fulfil its mission of charity at national, Diocesan and local level.” Caritas SA must rise to the occasion and show that it is truly the charity of the Church in action.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General, Aloysius John, conveyed an apology for Cardinal Antonio Tagle, the President of Caritas Internationalis, who would have loved to be part of the assembly but had prior engagements to attend to. In his message Aloysius John highlighted how during COVID-19 pandemic Caritas South Africa’s efforts to help the migrants and the people on the move were tremendous and witnessed the Commitment to Receive, Protect, Defend and Accompany the migrants, rejected by the society in which they live. The Secretary General was also encouraged to see the commitments to implement the CIMS (Caritas Internationalis Management Standards).
Caritas Africa expressed its solidarity with the people of IMBISA Region taking note also of the protests in Eswatini and the unrest in South Africa. “We stand in solidarity with you during this challenging time and we believe that through our Church Structures we can make a change,” said Albert Mashika of Caritas Africa. In line with Caritas South Africa’s theme (Advent of Hope and Creativity) for these assembly Mr Mashika concluded by reminding participants Africa is a Land of hope, and they must not grow weary of doing good as their efforts are making a difference is small ways.
The Imbisa region was represented by Fr. Dumisani Vilakati, the Director of the Imbisa Secretariate, who in his message noted that “Our countries are inter-dependent.” Adding that no country is an island, therefore, “South Africa depends on the neighbouring countries for its economic advancement in the same manner that the neighbouring countries tend to, by and large, depend on South Africa for their economic well-being.” Fr. Vilakaki said South Africa has done a lot in welcoming the needy and the poor in its territory, so, from IMBISA he can only wish Caritas South Africa God’s blessings as it continues embracing these important and significant acts of love.
The assembly concluded with a closing prayer and a blessing from His Eminence, Wildrid Cardinal Napier, who also reminded the assembly of the upcoming elections of the new leadership of Caritas South Africa as the term of the current leadership is drawing to an end.