Non-European to Lead Vincent de Paul Society

Cardinal Cordes Will Address Assembly

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SALAMANCA, Spain, MAY 28, 2010 ( For the first time in the history of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a president will be chosen from outside Europe.

The society began its Extraordinary General Assembly today in Salamanca, with the plan to elect its 15th international president general. Two of the candidates are from Brazil, one from Egypt and another from Singapore.

Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, is attending this assembly, which runs through Tuesday. He will address the members on the subject of charity and will preside over a Mass on Sunday.

The society, a lay organization that does charitable work, is present in 146 countries and has some 800,000 members worldwide, with an additional 1.5 million volunteers cooperating in its projects.

Created in 1833 in Paris, the society began with a group of students, among them Frederick Ozanam, who was beatified in 1997, putting in motion their idea to unite «all young people of heart and spirit for some charitable work.»

It has grown constantly throughout the world to assist the most dispossessed, in keeping with the idea that «no form of charity is foreign» to it.

Several million poor people receive aid and support from the society through material assistance or a friendly presence, but also orphanages, homes for the elderly, microcredit programs, scholarships, professional formation, medical help and hospitals, hospitality centers, and disaster relief and rehabilitation.
The society members operate through «conferences,» which are based out of churches, schools, hospitals, community centers, or other similar places.

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