By Isabelle Cousturié
KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, APRIL 30, 2008 (Zenit.org).- For Aid to the Church in Need, projects can range from obtaining bicycles for African catechists to promoting unity in China, but each undertaking is important, says the organization’s new secretary-general.
Pierre-Marie Morel took the role of secretary-general at the Germany-based aid organization in January. In this interview with ZENIT, he speaks of the benefactors who make the organization possible, and the universal mission of the Church.
Part 1 of this interview was published Tuesday.
Q: What kinds of aid requests do you get most frequently?
Morel: I can give you an overview of the distribution of our aid based on the nature of the projects in 2007, which will be published soon in our annual report: Aid to construction — 28.1%; aid to urgent relief — 1.3%; aid to subsistence — 3.3%; Mass offerings — 14.2%; religious formation — 14.3%; communications media apostolate — 3%; biblical apostolate — 3.9%; pastoral aid — 18.4%; catechesis — 8.6%; aid with travel — 4.9%.
But one shouldn’t consider just financial help. There is no such thing as a small project. Each project is important, regardless of its budget. In principle, it’s about listening to the needs of our brothers and sisters in the faith, with great respect for those who know the priorities better than we do.
Three very different examples: A project in Africa to obtain a dozen bicycles so catechists can arrive to communities out in the country can be something highly important; a project to participate in the construction of a seminary in Lviv in Ukraine can have immense consequences in the pastoral ministry of the region; a project that could contribute to the reconciliation of official and non-official Catholics in China would respond to the reflection from Benedict XVI on Jan. 8, 2007, in his meeting with the diplomatic corps.
He said on that occasion, “My thoughts go out to the Christian communities. In most Asian countries, they tend to be small but lively communities, with a legitimate desire to be able to live and act in a climate of religious liberty. This is not only a primordial right but it is a condition that will enable them to contribute to the material and spiritual progress of society, and to be sources of cohesion and harmony.”
As you know, the Holy Father later published a letter to all Catholics in China inviting them to unity.
Thus, one can better see the scope of projects like these.
Q: The money that the organization distributes comes exclusively from benefactors. Let’s talk about how much you receive. How do you see it? Is it constant? Is it enough to answer the requests?
Morel: The donations curve is a constant miracle, because in recent years, it has followed the curve of aid requests. The progress in the donations is not entirely linear, but it tends upward. Nevertheless, the donations don’t always allow us to cover the total of the needs. In 2007, we were able to respond to a few more than 5,000 projects out of 7,000 requests.
In 1994, €58 million were donated; in 2000, €66 million; in 2005, €74 million and in 2007, €79 million.
Regarding the future, as you know, the progress of the donation curve is in the Lord’s hands. Nevertheless, we trust both in the generosity of our benefactors and the new donors — often youth — who more and more are joining in this solidarity project.
We will also continue adapting ourselves to the development of the world, developing the presence of our national offices and continuing to improve our communication so as to spread the word about this organization that is indispensable in maintaining the pastoral ministry of the Church in the world.
Q: What are you proposing at this level? Do you already have a project in mind that you would like to implement?
Morel: The great orientation for the future has to do with reaching out to segments of the population who are younger than our current middle-aged benefactors, for evangelization and for the continuation of our work.
The second main area touches on the evangelization of the means of communication and evangelization with these means and with new technologies.
Q: You have said on various occasions since your appointment that you see the Church like a global performer. Can you explain this?
Morel: […] The Church is an expert in humanity and because of that, has a universal mission. Who speaks of Love better than the Church? Who speaks of forgiveness better than the Church? Who speaks of happiness better than the Church?
Who speaks of truth better than the Church? Who invites us to meditate on the word of God better than the Church?
And this is not reserved to a few beginners, but to every person of good will who seeks the truth. On every continent. In this sense, the Church has a universal vocation.
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On the Net:
Part 1 of this interview: www.zenit.org/article-22448?l=english