Caritas celebrates 50 years working for justice, peace and development
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is celebrating its ‘Jubilee Year’ this year, representing 50 years since national bodies were established for justice, peace and development, including the provision of Catholic volunteers overseas.
This week in Wellington, Cardinal John Dew and new Apostolic Nuncio to New Zealand, Novatus Rugambwa, celebrated a special Mass to mark this occasion for the Wellington Archdiocese. The Mass was held at St Joseph’s Church, 152 Brougham St, Mount Victoria on Thursday evening.
Fifty years ago, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference/He Huinga o ngā Pīhopa Katorika o Aotearoa established national bodies for Catholic overseas aid, justice and peace, and provision of lay volunteers overseas.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is responsible to the Bishops in providing an avenue for Catholics to be actively involved in overcoming poverty and injustice. The organisation grew out of Catholic concern in the 1950s and 1960s for justice and a fairer distribution of the world’s resources; as well as the Second Vatican Council’s promotion of the Church’s concern for social issues and the role of the laity.
Caritas is holding a series of Diocesan Masses to acknowledge and honour all those, past and present, supporting the Church’s mission for justice, peace and development. Anniversary masses were held in Dunedin and Christchurch in March.
Following their attendance at the Vatican Council on the role of the Laity in the 1960s, former Archbishop of Wellington Cardinal Reginald Delargey, Bishop of Christchurch Brian Ashby, Fr John Curnow and Jocelyn Franklin were instrumental in the beginning of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand. They committed themselves to ‘reading the signs of the times’, meaning the church should listen to, learn from, and respond to the world around it, applying Catholic social analysis principles of See, Judge, Act.
Today, Caritas continues to read the signs of the times and apply See, Judge, Act to the issues of our day, Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas.
In 1975, it joined the international Caritas network of 165 Catholic aid, development and social justice agencies, adopting the Caritas name in 1992. A short history of the organisation is also available on the Caritas website at: https://caritas.org.nz/who-we-are/our-history
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