.- The goal of a new slogan adopted by the Vaticanâs official charity is being called âunrealisticâ by the Church official charged with overseeing the organization.
Cardinal Robert Sarah said he doesnât understand Caritas Internationalâs new theme â âOne Human Family â Zero Poverty,â which was unveiled at the charityâs annual meeting this week in Rome.
âI think it would be wise not to follow some unrealistic slogans. But, I'm very hesitant to understand what zero poverty means, because Christ said we will always have the poor. So, what is a realistic way we can fight the poverty? But, it's difficult to absolutely cancel out poverty,â he told CNA May 22.
The slogan is both the theme for this weekâs conference and for the organizationâs strategic document for the next four years.
The cardinalâs comments come at a difficult time for Caritas. The organization faces criticism from Cardinal Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and others for a perceived lack of Catholic identity.
Earlier this year, the Vatican blocked Caritasâ current general secretary, Lesley-Anne Knight, from running for re-appointment to her post. The charityâs governance is also being revamped to give Vatican officials more control over its work.
Cardinal Sarah alluded to these concerns in his opening remarks at the Caritas meeting on Sunday, which was attended by roughly 300 delegates.
âI believe it is important to understand that our charitable organizations are located within the Church and not alongside her,â he said.
âA Caritas that wasnât an ecclesial expression would have no meaning or existence. The Church cannot be considered as a partner of Catholic organizations. They are the organizations that take part in her mission.â
He also stressed that the agencyâs work is ânot merely philanthropicâ but above all âentails giving back to human persons all their dignity as children of God.â
Cardinal Sarahâs comments came only moments after both the charityâs slogan and the work of its current general secretary had been praised by Caritas president, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga.
Cardinal Rodriguez said the new slogan represents a âwill to fight injustice and poverty. It is a simple expression of our understanding of the world.â
âZero can be conceived as a âcondition of possibilityâ for all the numbers,â he added. âIt is an analogy for equality. We cannot negotiate about 2 percent or 20 percent or 0.7 percent of poor people.â
He acknowledged that the Vaticanâs handling of Knightâs reappointment had âcaused grievanceâ in the organization, especially for female Caritas workers.
This weekâs meeting in Rome marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of Caritas. The organization is currently in talks with the Vaticanâs Secretariat of State to create new statutes that will enhance its Catholic identity.
Cardinal Sarah thinks that "the future will be very brilliant" for Caritas if it follows "the indication given by Pope Benedict XVI in 'Deus Caritas Est.'"
"Caritas must follow the steps of Jesus, expressing the compassion, (and) the love of God with humility," he said. The way forward for Caritas should be the teachings of the previous Popes, "starting from Pius XII and John Paul II and Benedict XVI."