Crosscare 2006 Annual Appeal Launch ‘Cold and Hungry in Ireland this Winter’ – Comments of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

14 Sep 2006




‘Cold and Hungry in Ireland this Winter’

Comments of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin

Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland

Many people do not like using the word “charity”.  You often hear people saying
“I do not want charity, I want my rights, or I want justice”.  People talk about
“going beyond charity”.

This is because especially in English the word charity has become debased, associated
by many as meaning just handouts, and at times even handouts that are below normal

Pope Benedict in his first Encyclical has stressed that charity is at the essence of
the Christian message: Deus Caritas Est, God is love.  Loving is of the essence of God.  
God’s interior life is a life of love: of self-giving, saving love.   That love was
revealed above all in Jesus Christ who saved us by giving himself for us, even unto
dearth.  Self-giving is of the essence of being a Christian.  A Christian community
should be marked by its generosity. That is why the Archdiocese of Dublin is grateful
to Crosscare. In our market driven consumer world, we need to be reminded constantly
that true personal fulfilment comes as much from giving as from having.  A world
without personal generosity would be an introverted, self-centred and in the end
a self-destructing world.

Crosscare is the social care agency of the Archdiocese of Dublin.  For sixty-five
years it has been providing food and shelter, it has been helping young people and
people with disabilities, emigrants and the travelling community as well as supporting
the many carers in the diocese who dedicate their lives to caring for another.

Crosscare aims to redress the harsh consequences of poverty and disadvantage. It aims
to identify social exclusion, in its old and new expressions, and to lead those who
are excluded into being once again people who can realise their God-given dignity to
the fullest degree possible.

These human needs and the response have been there for sixty-five years!  They have
changed but they have not diminished.  Wealthy Ireland still has those who are at
its fringes.  In an Ireland where enormous amounts are paid out on consumer and
luxury goods, there are still many who need support to survive and just be themselves.  
Crosscare is there for them, day after day.  In the face of the uncertainties, the
insecurities and the precariousness of their lives, those who need support can rely
on Crosscare.

Pope Benedict tried to tease out for us what should be the distinguishing mark of
the charitable services of the Church in the midst of a myriad of services provided
by statutory or voluntary agencies.  “Human beings”, the Pope said, “need something
more than technically proper care.  They need humanity.  They need heartfelt concern”.   
The spirit of Christian love is not just a hidden private motivation of the worker
of a Christian caring organization; it is the most original contribution that such
organizations bring to the good of society.  

The Pope proposes the Good Samaritan as the model of heartfelt concern that Church
agencies should show in their activities.  First and foremost the Good Samaritan did
not ignore nor delegate his responsibility.  On the busy road, the Samaritan took
the time to stop, to notice and to look into the eyes of the man who was injured.   
He bore him in his own hands and brought him to where he would have his wounds healed.  
The Good Samaritan made sure that the financial resources to care for the man were
there and he even returned to ensure that the person had been restored to good health,
to be fully himself.  Christian charity should enable rather than create dependence.  

A Christian community cannot delegate charity to others.  Too many today are unaware
of the anguish that is there on the margins of the busy road of modern society. They
take no notice.  They fail to stop.

We know that the Good Samaritan is a surprising hero: he is not the traditional pious
religious figure, but the Samaritan, the stranger.  Very few ask who the man was who
fell among the thieves.  We know nothing about him.  The Gospel does not tell us about
his identity or background or what he was doing on his journey.  It tells us however
the one and only important thing we have to know about him:  he was “a man”; he was
a human being who was wounded.  That is all we need to know.  Our response to wounded
humanity or human need should not be conditioned on any other factor – such as race,
national origin, culture or even of moral rectitude – but simply on recognising a
brother of sister who needs our help.

Crosscare is a symbol of the Church in Dublin in its work and in its witness.  
Crosscare’s witness call on all of us to be more like the Good Samaritan and to take
the time necessary despite the hectic pace of the modern world to stop and notice
the less fortunate among us.  

Crosscare delivers its services with genuine charity.  People, who come to Crosscare
services are accepted, are looked at in the eye and called by their name. Crosscare’s
services are the fruit of the amazing generosity of the Catholic community in the
Archdiocese of Dublin both through contributions and through voluntary work.

I am pleased that Crosscare is carrying out a review of its activities to ensure that
it reaches out to new expressions of poverty and marginalization as they emerge and
also to ensure it can itself be an even more effective witness to a Church of love,
calling all of us to our duty of charity.

I thank the staff and the volunteers of Crosscare for their service day-in day-out
over the past year.  I take this occasion especially to thank the outgoing Director
of Crosscare, Father Michael Cullen, for his dedication and initiative and the immense
personal commitment that he brought to his work over the years.  I welcome his successor
Mr Conor Hickey.  

We thank God for the generosity of the people of the Archdiocese.  We appeal for
continued generosity.  I know how generously you will respond.