Pope Francis met representatives from several charities in Kinshasa on Wednesday and thanked them for their precious work for the most vulnerable.
Operators and beneficiaries of six charitable organizations and institutions presented their experiences and their activities in the fields of healthcare, education, and human development for the poor and marginalized.
Pope Francis thanked the Catholic charities in DR Congo for their precious work saying, “You are a great treasure.”
“While so many today dismiss the poor, you embrace them; while the world exploits them, you encourage them. Encouragement versus exploitation: Here is a forest that is growing, even as deforestation and waste run rampant!” the Pope noted.
Pope Francis praised their work with the remark that their witness "more importantly spoke with affection about the poor," people 'with names and faces' whom Christians 'cannot turn their backs on.'
“I would like to make better known what you are doing, to promote growth and hope in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and on this entire continent. I came here out of a desire to be a voice for the voiceless,” the Pope insisted.
The Charities that attended included Community of Sant'Egidio's DREAM Center (Disease Relief via Excellent and Advanced Means), Argentina's Fasta Association, and "Telema Ongenge," a local association that supports disabled people, and the Trappist sisters of Our Lady of Mvanda, in Kikwit.
These included also people affected by various types of disabilities, Hansen’s disease, and other illnesses.
Pope Francis stated that by meeting them, he hopes to give "voice" to the "immense talents" and stories "of true human and Christian grandeur" in the DRC and Africa as a whole and to the suffering, violence, abuse, discrimination, and marginalization in the country.
“Poverty and rejection are an offense against human beings, robbing them of their dignity”, the Pope emphasized.
“Only by restoring dignity do we restore humanity,” the Pope insisted.
He was dismayed to discover that children and the elderly were discarded in the DRC, and described it scandalous as they symbolize every society's roots and future.
“True human development cannot flourish where there is no memory or future,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis suggested that Catholic charities must meet three criteria to better represent Jesus' compassion for the poor.
The first is "setting an example" by being credible, competent and transparent in financial management.
The second criterion is "having foresight," which means promoting long-term projects for their future self-sufficiency rather than providing for the immediate needs of the poor.
“Rather than distributing goods that will always be in short supply, it is better to transmit knowledge and the tools that make development autonomous and sustainable,” the Pope urged.
Third is to be “fruitful and effective” by networking and cooperating with each other, Christian communities, other religions, and humanitarian organizations “without remaining isolated or self-referential.” - With inputs from Vatican News
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