Church's Charity Work Seen as Unsung Hero

Cardinal Sarah Urges Media to Spread the Word

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum today urged members of the press to spread the word about how much charity work the Church does around the world.



Cardinal Robert Sarah said this today when he presented Benedict XVI's annual Lenten message. The Pontifical Council Cor Unum is the council that coordinates the Church's global charitable service.

"In a media environment that wishes to speak only of errors committed by Church members, we must make known the concrete charity of the Catholic Church," the cardinal declared. "Today, I launch an appeal to you to take up this initiative."

Cardinal Sarah's appeal came after he had mentioned just two of the thousands of initiatives carried out by the Church.

"On Jan. 12 this year," he explained, "our Holy Father asked that I go in his name to Haiti, one year after the devastating earthquake that struck that nation. Who has not been cut deep in the heart by the relentless suffering of our brothers and sisters in that nation?"

The cardinal noted that in Haiti alone, the Holy Father has given more than $2 million in aid.

"Perhaps we may think that this is a 'drop in the ocean' when confronted with the enormity of the reconstruction needed in that troubled nation," Cardinal Sarah reflected. "But how important it is for our suffering brothers and sisters to know that the Pope is close to them."

Planet's poorest

As well, the 65-year-old cardinal reported, "[J]ust one week ago, I returned from a meeting in Africa of the 'John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel,' one of two foundations that Cor Unum oversees to attend to our suffering brethren, the other being the Foundation 'Populorum Progressio' to assist indigenous peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean."

The Sahel, he explained "is the poorest region of our entire planet." There, populations "struggle daily to combat starvation, deadly diseases and dire poverty, in the face of the rapidly advancing encroachment of the Sahara desert," and "intense misery leads to economic and political instability, creating a vacuum for conflict and unrest that produce a vicious circle of deepening hardship, especially for the most vulnerable."

Not bread alone

Though the Church is intent on alleviating suffering, the Guinean cardinal also reflected that material necessities alone cannot "guarantee our lasting happiness and peace."

"In the face of the very real suffering that we encounter on a global level -- natural disasters, disease, famine, war -- of course, we are obliged to seek out concrete solutions to alleviate misery. [...] But Christ founded the Church to give much more," he said.

In light of the Pope's Lenten message, Cardinal Sarah affirmed: "Suffering, both global and personal -- sickness, loneliness, financial distress, family problems, and ultimately, the greatest enemy of all, death -- requires an answer that only the possession of eternal life can give: to know 'the power of Christ’s resurrection, and partake of his sufferings by being molded to the pattern of his death, striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead.'"

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On ZENIT's Web page:

Pope's Lenten Message: www.zenit.org/article-31816?l=english

Cardinal Sarah's address: www.zenit.org/article-31818?l=english