Caritas is at the heart of the Church, according to Pope Francis. Caritas indeed is one of the three planks on which the Church’s mission stands. The Church’s mission is an integrated mission to evangelize, to nurture and to show love. This is expressed succinctly in Deus Caritas Est when Pope Benedict XVI said “The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia) and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable” (Deus Caritas Est, 25).
This stand was reiterated in the Motu Proprio on Caritas which Benedict XVI issued in November 2012. The work of charity is therefor not an after thought or one that is relegated to only one struggling society. It is the joy and the burden f the entire faithful.
Charity is also not a restricted activity of individuals; groups, communities, nations could do charity. ‘The church is also called as a whole to the exercise of the diakonia of charity, whether in the small communities of particular churches or on the level of the universal Church’ (Cf Motu Proprio).
Charity cannot be a haphazard activity. Pope Benedict XVI insisted it must be something organized. Although there is the natural instinct to love and care, charity cannot depend exclusively on instinct or impulse but through a rational process of organization. This is why it is extremely important to coordinate. Coordination begins at the local community/parish level to the diocesan, provincial and subsequently the national office, with has this overall mandate on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).
Ever since its establishment, Caritas Nigeria has been doing its best to coordinate activities in the relief and development sector on behalf of the CBCN. This is a no mean task especially considering the autonomous nature of the diocesan institutions. However, the Church is a communion and by nature collaborative. Caritas Nigera would continue to do its best to work along and with the institution it coordinates in spite of perceived challenges.
As a Board, we shall continue to support the mandate and the strategies of Caritas Nigeria so that it becomes not only a world-class organization but a dependable support to those that are most in need.
Our prayer and work therefor is to see Caritas Nigeria fulfill its mission, which is to promote the dignity of all, through participatory measures in line with Church’s tradition of practical love and teaching. I urge every stakeholder not only to read this annual report of 2014 but to buy into the vision and mission of Caritas Nigeria and sacrifice towards its strategic objectives.
This was a Forward message by Most. Rev. Lucius Ugorji to the 2014 Annual Report of Caritas Nigeria/JDPC.