Win for Poor “self-esteem, self-respect”: South African Cardinal to Caritas Coordinators

Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier, Archbishop of Durban and President of Caritas South Africa.

A South African Cardinal has urged Coordinators of the development and humanitarian arm of the Catholic Bishops in the country, Caritas South Africa, to be bold in addressing the plight of the poor in the 22-diocese nation and “win for them self-esteem and self-respect.”  

In a report issued Tuesday, July 21 by the Communication and Media Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), the Archbishop of Durban, Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier urges the coordinators of Caritas South Africa “to be like the disciples of Christ by not keeping quiet about the misfortunes but stand strong in addressing the plights of the poor and win for them self-esteem and self-respect.”

In the report, Cardinal Napier argues that addressing the plight of the less fortunate in society “during the scourge of COVID-19” is what Caritas is called to do and recalls the Holy Father’s message encouraging concrete actions toward the poor.

“Adhere to the call of Pope Francis by promptly offering concrete signs of Church support by committing (your) material resources and personal responses to alleviate the plights of the poor and bring healing to the broken hearted,” the South African Cardinal who doubles as the President of Caritas South Africa told Caritas Coordinators during the webinar session of the 3rd Assembly of Caritas South Africa. 

Speaking about the novel coronavirus pandemic that has infected 373,628 people and caused deaths of 5,173 others in the country, the 79-year-old Cardinal said, “There is need to raise awareness about the increasing infections of COVID-19 disease.”


“There is a greater need for Ubuntu to tackle the problems of COVID-19. Though united in fear of the disease, there is a need to unite in solidarity to tackle challenges of COVID-19,” he further said and called on Parish Priests and leaders to be well prepared to address the challenges posed by the pandemic when places of worship re-open in the country. 

The cardinal also said, “After COVID-19 the world will be different and no one will be the same as now.” 

He went on to urge the coordinators of Caritas South Africa “to be quick in doing their work and in projecting the plans of the future to address challenges of post COVID-19.” 

During the July 21 webinar session, the Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis, Aloysius John, echoed Cardinal Napier’s message regarding the global pandemic saying, “There is a new mission to be accomplished during post COVID-19.”

Officials of Caritas South Africa need to define a new start during the post COVID-19 period, including “asking themselves how they are going to develop Caritas in the parishes and promote the dignity of human persons,” Mr. John said. 

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On his part, the Coordinator of Caritas at the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (Caritas IMBISA), Namile Dlamini said, “There is a need to find our way during these devastating moments and see a meaningful change.”

“The period of COVID-19 is the time to rescue, rebuild and restore,” Mr. Dlamini further said, adding that working together with commitment is expected to realize “victory and fulfilment.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.