As Pope Benedict XVI prepares for the release of his first Encyclical letter, which will deal with the nature--and sometimes abuse--of the concept of love, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, has announced an international congress on charity, which they hope, will piggyback on the Holy Father’s new work.
The congress, themed, “…But the greatest of these is love,” based on St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, is due to be held on January 23 and 24 in the Vatican's New Synod Hall.
It will immediately precede the release of the Pope’s Encyclical, called "Deus Caritas est" and, according to a statement released by Cor Unum, has the aim of "maintaining alive within the Church a sense of Christian commitment to others."
The meeting is scheduled to be inaugurated by Cor Unum president, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, and will likely be attended by some 200 participants, including cardinals, bishops, ambassadors, heads of international aid organizations, and national delegates from Caritas and from non-governmental groups.
According to a calendar of events, released by the group, presenters will include James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank from 1995 to 2005, Denis Vienot, president of Caritas Internationalis, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland, all of whom will analyze “the two great sectors of humanitarian aid: that of civil society and that of the ecclesial world.”
On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI himself will address the participants, and later, during the afternoon session, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls will present a series of testimonies on "experiences of charity."
Most of the morning of the second day will feature an interview with Italian film director Liliana Cavani. Cavani, known for her films on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, will explain how the call of charity has affected her depiction of love in film.
Cardinal Francis Eugene George O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, will conclude that day’s session with a theological lecture on the nature of charity.
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, vice dean of the College of Cardinals and president emeritus of the Pontifical Councils of Justice and Peace and "Cor Unum", will close the congress Tuesday afternoon with a Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Basilica.