It was ‘catholicity evening’ at Nothing More Beautiful Feb 17 as the national parishes of the Edmonton Archdiocese brought their ethnic dress, . . .

WCR PHOTO | GLEN ARGAN

It was ‘catholicity evening’ at Nothing More Beautiful Feb 17 as the national parishes of the Edmonton Archdiocese brought their ethnic dress, . . .

February 28, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Caritas Internationalis is a sign of God’s love in this world, says the president of the organization that oversees the Catholic Church’s international development efforts.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, said Caritas is also a concrete form of the catholicity of the Church and a sign of true hope.

In his talk at a Feb. 17 Nothing More Beautiful session, Rodriguez quoted Pope Benedict’s encyclical Spe Salve, “The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. . . .

“A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering to bear it inwardly through ‘com-passion’ is a cruel and inhumane society.”

The Honduran cardinal and Lesley-Anne Knight, the Rome-based executive-director of Caritas, spoke at the session in St. Joseph’s Basilica on the catholicity of the Church.

The event, which always includes Evening Prayer, was made especially colourful by a procession of representatives from Edmonton’s national parishes dressed in their traditional garb and carrying flags from 38 nations into the basilica.

Their flags . . .

WCR PHOTO | GLEN ARGAN

Their flags . . .

The choir from Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spanish) Parish sang during Evening Prayer while a choir from St. Albert’s Vital Grandin School sang prior to the event.

Caritas Internationalis – which means Love across the Nations – is represented in Canada by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

Knight told of her experience overseeing Catholic relief last year following the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Organizations from 63 nations contributed $31 million for relief.

Some of that money came, she said, from “some of the poorest countries in the world (who) wanted to make a contribution in solidarity with the people of Haiti and had sent whatever they could from their meagre resources.”

Knight also spoke of her experiences of travelling to countries around the world with diverse cultures. Often those travels include sharing meals with people where there is no common language.

Despite the language barrier and unfamiliar customs, “there is something about sitting down to share a meal or a drink with people that makes us realize we are indeed part of one human family,” she said.

WCR PHOTO | GLEN ARGAN

And their music.

“When that food and drink is offered by people living in the favelas of Sao Paulo, in a refugee camp in Darfur, or a flooded village in India, it is always a humbling experience.”

ONE FAMILY

“If we see the world as one human family,” she continued, “how can we bear to see our brothers and sisters suffering? How can we tolerate the fact that one billion of them live in extreme poverty? That 30,000 people die every day from malnutrition and preventable diseases?”

Archbishop Richard Smith told the congregation it was “a profound blessing” to have Rodriguez and Knight speak at Nothing More Beautiful.

Smith highlighted Rodriguez’s emphasis on the universality of the Church springing from the very nature of the Church and that universality leads the Church to be missionary.

Knight, he said, complemented that message by telling how the Church is most effectively missionary when it reaches out in love.

The Feb. 17 Nothing More Beautiful session will be broadcast on Salt + Light TV on Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.; Feb. 27 at 11 a.m.; March 1 at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.; and March 2 at 11 a.m.

The text of Rodriguez’s speech is published on Pages 10-12. Knight’s talk will be published in next week’s WCR.

The last session of the third of five years of Nothing More Beautiful will be held May 5 with Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, and Cam and Nadine MacDonnell.