Cardinal in South Africa Calls for Fraternal Cooperation among Regional Caritas Entities

Caritas coordinators from Mozambique, Angola and São Tomé e Principe alongside Wilfrid Cardinal Napier (3rd from right). Credit: Sheila Pires

There is need for officials of the development and humanitarian arm of the Catholic Church within the jurisdiction of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) to foster brotherly collaboration amongst themselves, the President of Caritas South Africa has said. 

In his address at a Caritas IMBISA workshop on Monday, November 8, Wilfrid Cardinal Napier acknowledged the fact that the interconnectedness of every aspect of the earth requires collaboration. 

“As frontline agencies of the Church, Caritas must prioritize … fraternal cooperation and creating spaces for communion. Everything is connected. Disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, environmental stewardship and humanitarian action are connected. Together we are more,” Cardinal Napier said in the session that was held at Padre Pio’s Spiritual Centre in South Africa’s Pretoria Archdiocese.

The Cardinal added that Caritas members need to work together in implementing the "fraternal cooperation principles of mutual respect, mutual support and mutual accountability,” as stipulated by Caritas Internationalis (CI). 

"The Church has an important role to play in bringing actors at the Parish, national, Diocesan, regional and international levels together to share, reflect and learn from each other," said the Archbishop emeritus of Durban Archdiocese. 


The Cardinal noted that fraternal collaboration among Caritas officials is in line with Pope Francis' call for universal fraternity and solidarity in the Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti

“The Holy Father calls for a new universal fraternity and solidarity among and between persons and nations. He provides us with the counter-values which lead to political, social, economic, racial, ideological disputes,” he said.

In the Encyclical Letter, the Cardinal says Pope Francis who brings to attention the natural and man-made disasters, suggests the application of “See, Judge and Act'' method of social analyses, theological reflection, and pastoral planning. 

In his address on the Church in the Modern World and the role of Caritas in a rapidly changing humanitarian context, the Cardinal who serves as the Apostolic Administrator of South Africa’s Eshowe Diocese also called on Caritas members to bridge the divide caused by digital media.  

He noted that the digital media plays a crucial role in global crises and underscored the need for the Church to use the platforms to make the plight of the people they serve known to the world. 

More in Africa

“We believe that national Caritas organizations in Africa region need to assist Diocesan Caritas to participate in online debates and dialogues, so that these eventually enable local communities to engage in these spaces,” Cardinal Napier said. 

The member of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) also informed the Caritas officials of the role they need to play in involving more men in the life of the Church. 

He noted that the majority of the Church-goers in the IMBISA region are youth and women, adding that men often participate in Church activities when disaster strikes. 

“Without exemplary male role models to emulate, boys and young men are likely to continue drifting away from the Church and its works at precisely the time we need them most. Without men our families are extremely vulnerable,” the South African Cardinal said. 

In light of extreme weather conditions often experienced on the continent, the 80-year-old Cardinal said Caritas Africa "must therefore help national and Diocesan Caritas’s to equip themselves by investing in community managed disaster risk reduction." 


"It is in this area that Parish Caritas must play a role. It is well placed to advocate for better delivery of social services and relief. In this way it is the voice of the voiceless," Cardinal Napier said, and added that a remarkable “Caritas Work” was done by close cooperation between the leaders of different churches and even religions.