CAFOD: Half a century on the side of the poor

2012-11-22 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Exactly 50 years ago the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development was set up by bishops of England and Wales to provide financial support for people in the poorest countries of the world. Half a century on, CAFOD as it’s known, works with over 500 local aid and development groups in countries right across the globe, providing not only emergency disaster relief, but also long term funding and advocacy programmes to promote human dignity in a safer, sustainable and more peaceful world.
With a budget this year of over £60 million, the London based agency is the leading Catholic charity in the UK and works closely with the worldwide Caritas network, putting Gospel values and the Church’s teaching into practise on a daily basis.
At a 50th anniversary celebration held at the Venerable English College here in Rome on Wednesday, Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen sat down with CAFOD director Chris Bain to find out more about the history and vision for the next half century….


"The bishops met in the English college in October 1962 and they’d been witnessing the work of Catholic women in England and Wales who were organising family fast days, where parishes and communities and schools gave up a meal and donated that to the work overseas….

I think in all the work in parishes, women are still a key part of the volunteer force. CAFOD relies on volunteers to raise awareness and to raise funds and women would be a driving force of that vision. Within the staff of CAFOD there’d be women shaping programmes in West Africa, Latin America and working also with congregations, many women religious, for example, working in these areas would be CAOD partners…

CAFOD’s work always encompasses all activities which are about tackling injustice and extreme poverty…. About a third of our work is in extreme emergency situations but I always make the point that the very first people on the ground when emergencies happen are (local) Church people and what we do as CAFOD is to come in and support them …

A very clear message from the Holy Father’s encyclical Caritas In Veritate is that we have to be mindful of what is keeping people in absolute poverty, what is keeping people from not exercising their basic rights and much of our work is also about challenging governments, companies and institutions to say ‘are you doing enough to tackle the root causes of poverty?.....

And as the Church believes, this development isn’t just about material issues, we call it authentic human development, this holistic sense of the body and the soul…..the Church has got be about seeking justice and this has to be rooted in God’s love, so this idea of love and justice coming together must shape the work that we’re doing….."