Vatican Cardinal Urges Caritas Africa to Foster “highly pronounced ability to listen”

Michael Cardinal Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD). Credit: Caritas Africa

The Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD) has urged members of Caritas Africa, the development and humanitarian arm of the Catholic Church on the continent, to promote the virtue of listening.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa May 21, Michael Cardinal Czerny describes the ability to listen as a “fundamental dimension of the style that Pope Francis wants the whole Church to adopt.” 

“Listening to reality is the only valid starting point of any project of social service,” Cardinal Czerny says, and adds that listening is part of the “heritage and style” of Caritas.

He continues, “Listening to local people is a strength to cherish and embrace, along with using social analysis to probe the causes, and the social teaching of the Church to reflect more deeply.”

The Czechian Cardinal made reference to the 2015 Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis “on care for our common home”, Laudato Si’, describing it as a call “to listen to the cry of the poor and the earth in Africa, marked by a very flawed and unfair model of development, and by inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic and by the many ongoing wars.”


In the light of the highlighted challenges, the 78-year-old member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) says it is “absolutely necessary” for all members of Caritas Africa “to develop and practice an extraordinary, highly pronounced ability to listen.”

Referencing the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality, he calls upon members of Caritas Africa to embrace the spirit of synodality by “walking together … in the acceptance of all differences, in the appreciation of all ministries and in the recognition of all charisms.”

The Cardinal says that walking together and accompanying all people including the poor and marginalized is a way that Caritas Africa can make her contribution to the building of the synodal Church.

“Besides accompaniment, there is another meaning of ‘walking together’ that challenges Caritas in Africa today and tomorrow: it is being fellow travelers or ‘companions on the road,’” Cardinal Czerny says in his message shared with ACI Africa May 21.

He adds that being companions on the road “involves practicing listening, not only with those in need who knock on our doors but more generally with many who make up our complex societies and their numerous peripheries.”

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Being companions on the road also involve listening “with institutions and organizations, Christian and public and private, that are committed to protect the poorest and promote justice, fairness, and sustainability,” the Catholic Church leader who was elevated to Cardinal in October 2019 says.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.