Even though the Vatican daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, born July 1, 1861, has temporarily suspended its print version, and thus delivery to the city of Rome and environs, it can still be accessed in multiple languages in its digital form at http://www.osservatoreromano.va You may also go to http://www.vaticannews.va and click on the yellow and white block on the right side of the home page.
Today I offer a thoughtful video message from Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, newly appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Until that appointment he was the archbishop of Manila, the Philippines.
EMERGENCY AND CHARITY: A REFLECTION BY CARDINAL TAGLE
What place does charity have in a time marked by the Coronavirus pandemic? Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and President of Caritas Internationalis, reflects with Vatican News on this question, urging us to conquer the virus and fear with the “contagious pandemic of love.”
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We are faced with an emergency due to the coronavirus 19. An emergency, from the Latin word “emergere,” refers to an unforeseen occurrence that rises before us and requires attention. Emergencies are not new to us. Every year we experience earthquakes, typhoons, floods, drought and diseases. But they are often confined to a limited place and people. The current covid19 emergency is called pandemic, from the two Greek words: “pan”, meaning “all” and “demo,” meaning “people or population.” A pandemia affects all or nearly all people. We can say that the covid19 is a general or universal emergency. It affects nearly all of us. It invites a response from all of us.
During emergencies, we instinctively think first of ourselves, our families and the people close to us. We will do anything within our means to protect them. While this reaction is basically good, we should be careful so that we do not end up thinking only of ourselves. We should avoid fear from making us blind to the needs of other people, those needs that are the same as ours. We should prevent anxiety from killing genuine concern for neighbors. In an emergency, the true heart of a person also emerges. From an emergency that affects all people (pandemia), we hope to see a pandemic emergence of caring, compassion and love. An emergency crisis that erupts unexpectedly can be addressed only by an equal “eruption” of hope. A pandemic spread of a virus must produce a pandemic “contagion” of charity. History will judge our generation by the power of self-less love that this common emergency will have generated and spread or will have failed to do so. We thank the heroic people whose love and courage have already been a source of healing and hope these past weeks.
Experts say that we should wash our hands to avoid being contaminated by the virus and to avoid spreading it. At the trial of Jesus, Pontius Pilate “called for water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, declaring as he did, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just man. The responsibility is yours’” (Matthew 27:24). We should wash our hands, but not the way Pilate did. We cannot wash our hands of our responsibility towards the poor, the elderly, the unemployed, the refugees, the homeless, the health providers, indeed all people, creation and future generations. We pray through the power of the Holy Spirit, genuine love for all may emerge from all human hearts as we face a common emergency.
IS CHARITY CONTAGIOUS?
I believe we all know, from days and weeks of devouring news stories online or listening to the radio or watching television, that people in the United States and so many other countries have stepped up to the plate when it comes to what Cardinal Tagle called “self-less love” and “an eruption of hope.”
Individuals, celebrated and unknown, as well as corporations and institutions have come forth with amazing charitable gifts and offers of help, including for example, a list of Italian fashion designers who are turning their ateliers over to producing masks and protective clothing for medical personnel.
I follow U.S. football and, while I would not be a ‘Jeopardy’ contestant for my vast knowledge of this sport, I do know a few names, mainly quarterbacks. I thus recognized the name Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterback, when I read he and his wife gave $5 million to help fight coronavirus.
Football fan or not, I am sure you all know the story of Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, that is, the person in charge of Francis’ office for charity. Most of you think of the elemosineria as the Vatican office where you can obtain papal blessings. True – also true is that the monies paid for blessings go to papal charities. (www.elemosineria.va)
It is how Cardinal Krajewski uses that income that is the beautiful story.
CRUX did a great profile of this enormously generous and self-less prelate as he brings an “eruption of hope” to Rome’s homeless in these days of a pandemic: https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2020/03/vatican-official-tells-clergy-there-is-a-gospel-in-the-making-on-the-streets/
Cardinal Krajewski has been in the Vatican for decades and those of us who knew him called him simply “Don Corrado” (‘Don’ is Italian for ‘Father’). I used to refer to him as the Pope’s “altar ego” because he was one of the ceremonial officials whom you’d always see at the side of Pope John Paul, and also of Benedict in his early years, at papal liturgies.
You have to write the word “charity” in capital letters when it is in the same sentence as Don Corrado. Please pray for his health and well-being as he doubtlessly exposes himself to possible contagion in thee tumultuous times.
Another source of information on aid that is coming to Italy are embassies. The U.S. embassies, for example, have been emailing coronavirus-related alerts and messages to all U.S. citizens who have registered with them.
The U.S. embassy to Italy has a Twitter account in Italian and English that updates us on what they are doing: @AmbasciataUSA. That account, for example, posted news from Samaritans Purse that, with the assistance of the embassy, brought a field hospital and medical personnel to Cremona, Italy:
“To date, our medical team in Cremona, Italy has treated more than 100 patients at our Emergency Field Hospital. Each day, more patients with the #coronavirus are being admitted to our hospital. https://sampur.se/”
The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See has a website filled with information about diplomatic ties, our history with the Holy See, speeches and engagements of the ambassador but also valuable information for American citizens residing in Italy in the coronavirus era: https://va.usembassy.gov/
So, the answer is YES, charity is contagious!