On Sunday 14 February: “Meet the poor”
Joint COMECE-Caritas Europa press release
On the occasion of the European Year 2010 for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, COMECE and Caritas Europa have launched a joint initiative.
On Sunday 14 February, the Holy Father will visit some Caritas projects in Rome. During this visit he will meet spiritually all the poor of Europe, as an expression of solidarity with them, setting an example to all of us. As a sign of this communion, COMECE and Caritas Europa invite to similar encounters between bishops and the poor this Sunday, which is the feast day of the patron saints of Europe, SS. Cyril and Methodius, or in the following weeks.
Mgr Adrianus van Luyn, President of COMECE, and Fr Erny Gillen, President of Caritas Europa, have sent a letter to all the Bishop Members of COMECE and to all Caritas organisations in Europe encouraging them to make a significant and symbolic gesture in their dioceses, as a sign of spiritual unity on that day, such as a visit by the Bishops to a key Church project, in order to promote a broader and deeper ecclesiastical communion in the service of the poor in 2010.
Following this invitation, several visits will take place in over 60 dioceses throughout Europe. At Kosptal (Luxembourg) Mgr Fernand Franck will visit a reception centre for persons suffering poverty and exclusion; the exchange will be followed by a joint lunch with the residents of the centre. At Hajnowka (Poland), Mgr Antoni Dydycz is preparing a visit to prisoners in the diocese of Drohiczyn. The Mensa Auxilium of Caritas Genova (Italy) will be welcoming S.E. Cardinal Bagnasco, while in the diocese of Graz Seckau (Austria) Mgr Egon Kapellari will visit Marienstüberl and have lunch with homeless people. Cardinal Schönborn will visit the Caritas centre for Homeless "Gruft" in Vienna.
According to Eurostat, 85 million people in the EU experience material deprivation and one in every five children lives in poverty. One in every ten people in the EU lives in a household where nobody works and one in every ten people with a job nonetheless lives in poverty.
During this year, by means of a wide range of actions, Caritas Europa intends to open people's eyes and touch their hearts in order to bring about change. The Caritas Zero Poverty campaign (www.zeropoverty.org ) proposes specific actions against poverty that can be undertaken in our everyday life. It contains a list of 'missions' that participants can achieve over the course of the year, including such recommendations as volunteering in one's community or buying fair-trade products.
For its part, COMECE will have the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion as a main topic at its next Plenary Assembly (12-14 April in Brussels).