“The constant state of crisis in which we live is not only financial or economic. The crisis we are experiencing is primarily cultural and anthropological. It is therefore not only a financial and material assistance to meet some type of distress, but rather to give the human person back his dignity,” said Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, in the opening speech of Caritas Europa’s 2012 Regional Conference.

Presidents and Directors of 49 Caritas organisations from 46 European countries gathered today in Warsaw, Poland, for the annual Regional Conference of the network organisation Caritas Europa. This main statutory decision making and direction setting assembly takes place at the headquarters of the Polish Bishops’ conference and will run through three days.

In an opening speech at the Polish Bishops’ Conference, the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Cardinal Robert Sarah, thanked Caritas organisations for their unlimited time and energy for helping vulnerable people in societies throughout the world, “not only by giving something, but giving something from your inner self.”

Cardinal Sarah talked about the identity of Caritas, whereas the source for all charity is love. He also reflected on the importance of voluntary work and challenges in the future while Europe is still tackling crisis in economy and society.

“It is unquestionably clear that the constant state of crisis in which we live is not only and primarilyfinancial or economic. The crisis we are experiencing is primarily a cultural and anthropological. The manis in crisis, he cannot find his own identity. The activity of Caritas should aim ultimately on integral human promotion. It is therefore not only a financial and material assistance to meet some type of distress, butrather to give the human person back his dignity,” he concluded.

“There are no ready-made solutions but one thing is very important: each project must be the size of theconcrete service of the person,” Cardinal Sarah said.

Care and Migration – important theme for Poland and the whole Europe

The Regional Conference is organised by the secretariat of Caritas Europa in Brussels and the host Caritas Poland. This year’s Regional Conference will also include a thematic conference on care and migration, which is the network’s main theme for the two years period 2012-2013.

At a press conference prior to the opening session, Marian Subocz, Director of Caritas Poland, underlined the importance of this subject for the hosting organisation.

“At the time when Caritas Europa celebrates its 40th year’s anniversary, I thank for the responsibility that Caritas Poland is given by holding this Regional Conference. Caritas Poland has now been a member of the European network for 20 years. We are especially enthusiastic about hosting the thematic conference on “Care and Migration”, Caritas Poland’s most important challenge these years,” he said.

Erny Gillen, President of Caritas Europa, said caring services in society can be expressed with three different but interlinked “R-s” – respect, reciprocity, relation.

“Poverty is, so to say, making our society collapse. It is a threat to our society and a scandal as such. We cannot accept poverty as a compatible part of our society. To tackle this, caring work of Caritas organisations all over Europe is imperative and can be described with three words; respect, reciprocity, and relation. Respect for all people is fundamental factor for all Caritas organisations, reciprocity is a key word for equality – when we are talking to a person in need, we are talking to our brother or our sister. The third “R” refers to relation. Our society is both consumer driven and egoistic. We can invest in relations, in order to change the world. We are actors in that change,” he said.

Other participants at the press conference included Bp Wojciech Polak, , General Secretary of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, and Jorge Nuno-Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa, with Marcin Przeciszewski, Chief editor of the Catholic news agency KAI, leading the debate.

The Regional Conference continues on Friday 11 May with the thematic conference on care and migration. Keynote speakers on “Care and Migration today” include Prof. Dr. Gerhard Kruip from University of Mainz (“Challenges for the European Society”) and Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis (“Geopolitical Trends”). Five different working groups and panel discussions will lead to a Caritas Europa position statement on care and migration.

See photos from the press conference and the opening session of the Regional Conference:

Too see the photos click here

For more information contact:

Thorfinnur Ómarsson
Communication Officer
Tel: +32 2 235 03 94
Mob: +32 473 341393
tomarsson@caritas-europa.org