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Message of Archbishop Youssef Soueif, President of Κοινωνία Caritas Cyprus

“I assure you that anyone who gives you a drink of water because you belong to me will certainly receive his reward” (Mark 9:41)


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

imagesI would like to mention from the beginning that the call to Caritas is the call of our Baptism par excellence. It is a call which stems from the Father’s love for all humanity. God is love. Deo Caritas Est. In the fulfillment of times, the Father’s love was manifested through the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ, the Word which became flesh; through the incarnation of God who was made Man showing solidarity with our feeble, dark and deadly humanity so that it ascends, through His love, to the life of the Father, to the Kingdom of Love.

All these were fulfilled by Jesus who was baptised in the River Jordan so as to introduce in history and in time His Baptism on the Cross. The movement from the river Jordan to the Cross should become just a single act of life. We must indeed give a glass of water to our brothers and sisters in the name of Jesus who gave all His life for us. We just give a glass of water and in return He gives us the kind of water which never stops flowing in abundance in the hearts of the people who receive the Spirit and are renewed by the Spirit of life and love.

How content and happy do we feel when offering, in the spirit of the Gospel, a glass of water to those who are thirsty; when we pay attention to them, having our eyes, hearts and spirit open so as to give them bread or money; when we show respect by our visits, not only to those who are sick, but also to those who suffer disappointments and live in solitude; when we share the joy with these people who, despite their wounded feelings, keep smiling and feel the support of the community which brings them hope.

Pope Benedict XVI considers “Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth.” (Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 1, Vatican City 2009)

The Pope Francis says that Caritas is “an essential part of the Church” and that it “institutionalizes love in the Church”. He said Caritas has two dimensions: action and a divine dimension “situated in the heart of the Church”. He said, “Caritas is not just for emergency situations as a first aid agency. In the situation of war or during a crisis, there is a need to look after the wounded, to help the ill…but there is also a need to support them, to care for their development.”  He said, “Caritas is the caress of the Church to its people, the caress of the Mother Church to her children, her tenderness and closeness.”  “Caritas must “go to the peripheries to cure and promote the human being” and to bring to the Church “tenderness.”  (Pope Francis, Private Audience with Caritas Internationalis, 16 May 2013)

These are the foundations on which the work of Caritas is built witnessing Christ’s love in the church and in the love for one another. With this spirit, Caritas Cyprus is renewing its mission serving and bearing witness on this beautiful island rich in its civilization and history which is facing a very big economic crisis.

There are though several situations that require the intervention of Caritas which is open to everyone – migrants, families with problems, our beloved old people, the young people who are seeking jobs and answers to their inner concerns, the people who live in solitude – so that programmes intended to meet various needs will develop again in our parishes and villages. Caritas is the social instrument of the church through which it witnesses, to the world, the presence of Christ’s service to the poor who expect a glass of water given to them with love and respect through the respect for human dignity.

I would like to invite all those who worked in the past and all those who feel the call to serve, and in a particular way the younger generations, to come close. There is place for everyone in Caritas and in the Church. Nobody is excluded, because love excludes no one. Giving even five minutes of your time per week is enough. The most important of all is the feeling of belonging and giving yourself in terms of solidarity; that is, to be a church.

I greet and congratulate the board and the council, clergy and laity and all the volunteers who are showing love and solidarity, I congratulate Caritas Cy for its new website which is a platform through it we share ideas, informations and we communicate strengthening bonds among ourselves offering the good news to everyone.

Let us offer Caritas Cyprus to the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of mercy, the Queen of love and peace, requesting her accompaniment so as to serve the wounded and the poor just like the Good Samaritan.

Nicosia, 21st May 2013

Youssef Soueif
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus
President of Caritas Cyprus