Cardinal Sarah on the Drought in East Africa

«A Whole Generation Risks Being Lost»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2011 ( Here is the address given today by Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, at the press conference held on the severe drought and food crisis affecting the Horn of Africa. Cardinal Sarah is a native of Ourous, Guinea, located in West Africa.

* * *

Dear Friends,

This conference is one of information and updating; it is promoted by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum over which I preside, together with representatives of charitable organizations. We returned this morning from a meeting on the situation and the intervention of the Church in the Horn of Africa and we wish to share with you some information and considerations.

The issue is very dear to the Pope. He was among the first in the international realm who spoke about it last July 17. In the Wednesday General Audience of two days ago, he repeated his concern and his appeal to the international community.

Obviously, we speak for the Catholic Church. The speaker who follows me will give some more precise indications on the activities carried out and the projects to be realized. In a general way I can say that there was a strong involvement of the local Churches. The most involved locally were in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, which offered hospitality and help to the victims. Through Cor Unum, the Holy Father supported this effort with almost US$400,000 in the first interventions.

Then there were interventions of different organisms, which will be presented to you.

I do not want to forget that in several countries special collections were carried out in the churches, for us they are: Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France, Ireland and others.

The presence here of a delegate of the Archbishop of Canterbury speaks of the joint concern and joint effort of the Christian communities. A message will be read that the Archbishop himself sent for this occasion. It is a significant testimony of the charity that unites us and of which we are the bearers.

All this effort, moreover, speaks of the vitality that the faith produces and that is manifested in these fruits of sharing, of love, of compassion, of care for the other, of help and of promotion of the human person, regardless of the race or religion to which he belong. This action is a consequence stemming from our faith that becomes operative in love (cf. Galatians 5:6; DCE 31; 33).

As president of Cor Unum I would like to thank all the members of the Church for their commitment. I would also like to share henceforth three reflections, addressing myself also to those who are in the second line, namely all the people of good will  who wish to do something, but who, because of the geographic and human distance of the humanitarian emergency and also not knowing what to do concretely, are induced slowly to forget the problem.

The Catholic Church will continue to do her part and will again seek collaboration with the other Christian communities to play an active part in resolving the humanitarian drama that is being consummated in the Horn of Africa. I address all the faithful, less they forget their brothers so tested. Today’s meeting states that the answer of the Church is unitary, although realized by different individuals, diocese, agencies, associations, missionaries and religious institutes. It responds to the Pope’s desire to witness the charity of Christ and of the whole Church to suffering man. Where man suffers, God is close.

I take up again the appeal of the Holy Father to the international community. Unfortunately, we often see that the mechanisms that govern international action are marked by the interests of individual nations. Prevailing are aspects of egoism also in international politics. We must allow ourselves to be inspired to carry out a policy that has the common good truly at heart. Only the quest for the common good makes it possible not to have winners and losers, executioners and victims, exploiters and hungry. A vision of man and of society should prevail where recognized in the economic value is the importance due to it, but not the ultimate decision on good and evil.

In the end, we must return to the heart of the question of development, which is education. In fact, what is at stake today in the Horn of Africa? What is the peculiarity of this humanitarian emergency? In it are all the tragic ingredients that are present in similar crises: a catastrophic event — in this case the very long drought — the lack of health infrastructure, the insufficiency of qualified personnel to manage emergency situations, political instability, corruption, the endemic poverty of the territory, the lack of work. But there is a particular thing that worries me, and risks jeopardizing the future of this part of the African continent, and it is this: the millions of dispersed people that are wandering in search of survival, who tomorrow will become fugitives, illegal immigrants without a homeland, people who do not have a home, a job, a community. A whole generation risks being lost.

In Africa, as everywhere in the world, a fundamental element that brings together a community of people is the school: where there is a school, where there is education, there is a possible future, there will be work tomorrow, families will be formed.

Therefore, I would like to make an appeal today, first of all to Christians: let us commit ourselves to build schools! Once this emergency is surmounted, we must intervene in formation. Here there is a special call for the Church, mother and educator as perhaps no other institution. Others perhaps are more adept and prepared to contribute to the reconstruction of houses and the health infrastructure necessary to render fitting the life of these millions of dispersed people. But we must be committed especially to education and the formation of upright consciences.

Henceforth I make an appeal: a school in every village! I say it as an African: let us unite in the effort to help the Horn of Africa to give education, instruction, and culture to its children!

I thank you.

[Translation by ZENIT]
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation