By Jesús Colina
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 19, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Three hundred and twenty directors of European Catholic charitable organizations will meet in the Polish Marian Shrine of Czestochowa this month to rediscover the most profound motivations for their charitable activities.
The spiritual exercises, organized by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican dicastery that coordinates the charitable activity of Catholic institutions around the world, were presented Tuesday to a group of journalists by Cardinal-designate Robert Sarah, the president of the Vatican dicastery.
The retreat will take place from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 at the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Poland, with the presence of five cardinals and 50 bishops from 140 dioceses of 26 nations. The theme of this year’s exercises are: “Here I am, Lord” (Isaiah 6:8) , and the meditations will be led by Cistercian Abbess Theresa Brenninkmeijer.
Monsignor Anthony Jesus Figueiredo, who is organizing the retreat, said the initiative seeks to respond to Benedict XVI’s appeal to form above all “the heart of those, as the charitable agencies identified with the Catholic Church, in addition to making charitable love concrete, must make known the true face of love, the face of Christ.”
This is the third continent to host a Cor Unum retreat. The first was held in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2008, and the second was held in Taipei, Taiwan, in 2009.
Monsignor Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, said that these exercises offer a chance to reflect on the identity of Catholic aid institutions.
This issue has direct repercussions, as for example, the construction of a church in a project of reconstruction, added Monsignor Dal Toso, who reminds with Benedict XVI that these agencies are a “proper work” of the Catholic Church.
“To take religion into account in humanitarian assistance is obviously important for a Catholic endeavor,” he added. “It is very important to offer religious assistance in a refugee camp. It is an example of what it means to us to support Catholic agencies so that they will feel themselves part of the mission of the Church.”