Last Monday, Pope Francis met with a Delegation of Caritas Spain, according to Vatican terminology. I have to confess that I took a few seconds to see who was in that audience.
I hardly have to move around that environment, because except for Cardinal Omella, always recognizable, the responsible bishop, the president of Caritas and the General Secretary, I did not know how to name anyone else. Perhaps it should be so.
The interesting thing about the meeting was, without a doubt, the Pope’s speech. The writing and the spontaneous interpolations that he added. Logical in Pope Francis, little given to schemes.
The Pope said that Caritas has earned the respect of Spanish society, believers and non-believers. Without a doubt, respect and admiration. And immediately the question arises: How has this been possible? What has made Caritas a recognizable and accepted brand by all? Is it possible to move away from identification with the Church, with the bishops, with the priests?
“It is not the results -said the Pope- that move us, fulfilling programmed objectives, but putting ourselves in front of that person who is broken, who does not find his place, welcome him, open paths of restoration for him, so that he can find herself, being able, despite her limitations and ours, to seek her place and to open herself to others and to God”.
This, I believe, is the first key to Caritas. The glances that the volunteers intersect with the people who have arrived there. Day after day, week after week. Life stories that they then discuss among themselves, that refer to their relatives, that move people’s hearts, that make children and young people wonder why I have everything I have, and that person, nothing.
“Look at the brother who is fallen, let us not forget that the only time it is lawful for us to look at a person from top to bottom is to help him get up, then never again,” the Pope added later.
It is true that the Pope’s reference to the bags of food was an invitation not to stay with that necessary, but insufficient reason.
Not a few people who come to Cáritas need food for the week, pay the electricity bills, rent the apartment before they kick her out, school supplies so that their children can have notebooks in which to do their homework.
But it is also true that we must go one step further, without neglecting that the first thing is to live. We must extend the hand of Christ, a metaphor for the Pope, an invitation to the reality of the Pope, to offer “the person an open door to a new life.”
And this is done not with great macroeconomic policy designs, but hand over hand, intelligence, capacity and will. It is clear that Caritas is not the hand of any welfare state, nor a regulator of the welfare state. There is no more Caritas policy than that of looks and hands, and that of that necessary supernatural vision to which the Pope is inviting everyone in his speech, as the key to action. Hence, the protagonist of Caritas is the poor Christ who approaches, Christ the gift who gives himself.
Finally, the Pope, who clarifies that he is not referring specifically to Caritas Spain, speaks of one of his favorite topics, the risk of it becoming a “great charity company”. Also in resource management.
Oh, and thank you holy father because I had no idea about the book “Little Brother” by Ibrahima Blade. First news of that story, perhaps because I don’t usually watch or hear the program “Raw Meat”.