Honduran Cardinal Re-elected President of Caritas

Notes Productive Dialogue With Holy See

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga has been elected to a second four-year term as president of Caritas Internationalis.

Caritas members are in Rome through Friday for the 19th general assembly of the confederation of diocesan charitable organizations from around the world. This year's assembly marks the 60th anniversary of the confederation, which joins some 165 Catholic charity organizations.

Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, 68, is the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

He gave an opening address Sunday to the assembly, in which he noted the ongoing "constructive dialogue with the Holy See talking about a dual legal and theological nature of Caritas Internationalis."

In 2004, Caritas was given the status of a "public juridical entity." With that status, the cardinal noted, "Caritas Internationalis is an instrument of the Holy Father."

The role of Caritas as a Church organization brought attention earlier this year when the Vatican denied Lesley-Anne Knight the possibility of seeking election for another term as secretary-general. Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga mentioned the tensions arising over that decision, saying the situation "caused grievance," but adding that "what she achieved must go on. We need more than ever before a strong secretariat and a strong leader."

"The dialogue with the Holy See about our common future and way of being Church must also continue," he added.

The cardinal also suggested that increased emphasis on Catholic identity does not imply proselytizing. Quoting "Deus Caritas Est," he said, "Certainly charitable work as such is convincing per se and if delivered from person to person needs no other legitimization, as Benedict XVI clearly states. 'Those who practise charity in the Church's name will never seek to impose the Church's faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak. He knows that God is love (cf. 1 John 4:8) and that God's presence is felt at the very time when the only thing we do is to love.'"

The cardinal noted how the Vatican invited an increased number of Caritas bishops to attend the assembly, such that more than 50 prelates are part of the gathering. He also confirmed that the Pontifical Council Cor Unum is preparing a document to re-emphasize the bishops' responsibility in their local or national Caritas.

Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga said that since February, an "extensive dialogue" has gone on between the Secretary of State and Caritas Internationalis, regarding the statutes in light of the dual juridical nature, as a "confederatio sui generis" and public juridical entity of the Church.

He said that the statues are not ready for a vote because of some issues still being discussed, but that the group would be asked to mandate the next executive committee to carry on the work of fixing guidelines "in the light and in the spirit of our deliberations and in the already productive dialogue with the Holy See." He proposed that the next executive committee and the Holy Father could approve statutes and rules ad experimentum until the next General Assembly in 2015.

The delegates elected Jürg Krummenacher as treasurer; the election for Knight's replacement as secretary-general will be held Thursday.