Alistair Dutton, the newly elected secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, admitted initial shock over the challenges faced by the organization in recent months but stressed what he described as the collective desire to learn from the past and move forward.
“I really think what I’ve seen this last week has set the tone for that,” said Dutton in a report on Vatican News. He said that in last week’s general assembly of the organization there was “a real spirit of wanting to understand, wanting to know.”
He said although there was some hurt and frustration, people came together in the spirit of wanting to “learn the lessons” and looking to the future. “We need to regain that confidence and joy that is Caritas,” he said.
He said the general spirit is the desire to “get back out” and move forward, and the atmosphere during the assembly has been constructive and serene.
“We need to come together as one Caritas family and get back to the good times … and do that amazing work, how Caritas brings God’s love out into the world,” said Dutton.
“Let’s focus on that and call the past the past,” he said.
Dutton recognized the increasing fragility of the world, with ongoing conflicts, humanitarian crises, and the plight of millions affected by climate change and poverty.
He explained that Caritas’ four-year strategic flan focuses on establishing the necessary structures and capacities to respond effectively to emergencies and long-term needs, wherever they may arise.
Highlighting the strength of Caritas’ network, Dutton emphasized the importance of working closely with each member organization.
He cited the success of Caritas in Ukraine, where two members have achieved remarkable results through collaboration, rivaling the efforts of the Red Cross.
Dutton stressed the significance of asking local communities about their specific needs and providing support accordingly, whether through expertise, financial aid, or prayer.
Dutton outlined five key priorities: strengthening the relationship with the Church, emergency response, integral human development, advocacy on various issues, and capacity building within Caritas organizations.
He highlighted the alignment between Pope Francis’ calls for solidarity and Caritas’ missionm, emphasizing the importance of Pope Francis’ message, which inspires Caritas to remain on the periphery and be close to those who suffer injustice. – with a report from Vatican News