Caritas Forum in Singapore: Building a society that supports the poor

» 09/12/2011 11:21

by Jeremy Lim
The newly appointed secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, Michel Roy, recalls the value of the commitment of each individual: “We are people who come together to help the poor and promote justice.” Archbishop Chia: “Bring the love of God to our brothers and sisters throughout the world.”

Singapore (AsiaNews) – The Church must build a new society that includes and supports the poor, Michel Roy, newly appointed Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis told a 600-strong crowd at Singapore’s very first Humanitarian Forum and Fair. “We have to invent new ways of building a society where everyone will live in dignity,” the said at the forum on 10 September, referring to the Pope’s encyclical Caritas in veritate.( see AsiaNews Caritas Internationalis is a church body, not philanthropic, says Pope) “We should involve those affected,” he added. “You cannot build solutions without those who are living the problems.”

The newly appointed Secretary-General of Caritas said that “we are not institutions, we are people who come together to help the poor and promote justice.” Michel Roy succeeded Leslie-Ann Knight a few months ago at the head of Caritas, whose president is Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga. The forum, organized by Charis, Singapore, gathered together 30 organizations engaged in humanitarian operations around the world. The Forum aimed to be a meeting to make contacts, bonds of collaboration and attract new volunteers for various projects. Guest of honor Archbishop Nicholas Chia, who urged the volunteers to donate part of their time to needy people in other countries.

“It is good that you want to learn about the hardships faced by our fellow brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, and to learn from each other how we can be more effective servants of Christs in responding to humanitarian needs, whether they be emergencies, climate change, migration, health, education, food security or peace building,” he said. The Archbishop explained that although humanitarian organisations can promote, coordinate and mobilise, the actual work needs to be done by individuals.

Msgr. Chia continued: “In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus points out that a total stranger is also our neighbour. We are fortunate in Singapore to be so blessed with plenty, even though there are some around us in need.” “Every baptised Catholic has to live out their social mission,” he added. “I encourage you to take active steps to bring God’s love to our fellow brothers and sisters around the world”.

Among the audience at the Humanitarian Forum and Fair were many young people who enjoyed the presentations and the chance to interact with various organisations at their respective booths. “The forum is a good introduction to alot of organisations,” said Sheril Amilia, a student who organises overseas volunteer work. “We have more options, many organisations we can work hand in hand with. it’s a great chance to make partnerships and work together.” For Lucian Lee, 16, his main insight was the need to motivate people. “Getting volunteers and manpower is quite a hard thing,” he said. “Getting donations is easy, there are a lot of rich and generous people in Singapore.” For Catherina Goenadi, 23, the forum “introduced me to humanitarian work in the context of the Catholic church, based on the Bible and our faith”.