Nov 23, 2011

The 100th ExCo of Caritas Internationalis @ Rome

Immediately after the Japanese Korean Bishops' meeting in Sendai, I traveled to the eternal city to attend a meeting of Caritas Internationalis (CI) for a few days.  The headquarter of CI is located within the Palazzo San Calisto in Trastevere area just adjacent to a beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere.  The Palazzo is a part of the Vatican territory and several offices of Holy See has offices within.

The meeting was the Executive Committee of Caritas Internationalis which is chaired by its president, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras.  Caritas is celebrating its 60th anniversary of foundation this year and this meeting was the 100th session of the Executive Committee which acts as the highest decision making body of Caritas Internationalis between its General Assemblies.  I attended the meeting as the President of Caritas Asia which is, at this moment, according to the present CI Statute, one of 7 Vice Presidents of the CI.  Asia was represented by delegates from Indonesia and Sri Lanka.  The regional coordinator of Caritas Asia, Fr. Bonnie, could not attend the meeting because of Visa difficulties.  All together, more than 25 members attended the meeting representing regions of Europe, Africa, Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, North America, Oceania and Asia.

The ExCo had intensive discussion to finalise the revised text of the Statute and Internal rules, budget for 2012 and action plan for next 4 years. The meeting also invited Bishop Marcelo S├ínchez Sorondo, Chancellor of Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, who addressed members of the ExCo on the economic crisis which has been causing tremendous difficulties over people's lives in world today.

The new Statute has been approved during the ExCo and will be submitted to Holy See for its approval.  Once it is approved, it may change several key structures of the CI executive body and I may not continue as the Vice President any more, though I will remain as the President of Caritas Asia and also as a member of the renewed ExCo.  We will see when it will be given approval of Holy See.

This is my second time to join the ExCo of CI.  Before I became bishop, I was a member of the ExCo from 1999 for one term of 4 years representing East Asia.  While I was serving for my second term as member of ExCo, I was appointed as bishop in 2004 and Fr. Daisuke Narui, SVD, the present director of Caritas Japan, took over from me.  This time, I could feel much more at home to attend the meeting and, though it was not easy to follow the discussion and express my opinion in English, enjoyed being there.  The present ExCo is filled with quite positive atmosphere of friendly exchange of opinions and cooperation.  Well, as a "good and typical" Japanese, I was quiet and listening.  During the meeting, one may use one of 3 official languages of the confederation which are English, Spanish and French.  In fact,there are quite a number of members who are fluent in all these 3 languages.  Also the executive officers of the CI, such as a president or a secretary general, have to be fluent in these 3 languages.  Though the professional simultaneous translations are provided during the meeting, and which also guarantees to finish a daily session at 6 pm when translators go home, it is not easy for me to just follow the flow of discussion through English translation.

It was beautiful autumn days in Rome during the meeting and I enjoyed morning walk to the Pallazo along Tevere river.  Next meeting of ExCo will be in May, 2012.

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