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"We had a wonderful visit with Pope Emeritus Benedict. It was an opportunity to thank him for his teaching about the ministry of charity such as in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est and Caritas in Veritate. We also want to share with him some of the ways it has borne fruit in our ministries. It was a great honor to to be welcomed so warmly and personally by the Pope Emeritus. We'll continue to pray for him and give thanks for the way the Lord has used him to bless the whole Church" -Jim Cavnar, President of Cross Catholic Outreach (Click here to read a Press Release)


Joe Yamamoto, ANCOP, and his wife Mila, Joanne Miceli-Bogash and Fr. Bernard at CIVI2014


Fr. Bernard, Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo of the Pontifical North American College, a presenter at CIVI2014 and Joanne Miceli-Bogash after Mass on Sunday


Henry Cappello, Founder and President, Caritas in Veritate International USA and co-sponsor with Cross Catholic Outreach of the CiVI 2014 in Rome, with his wife, Sabina Lee Cappello, a presenter at this year's conference


The day began with a concelebrated mass at the altar over the tomb of St. Pope John Paul II with Don Andrea Pupilla as main celebrant and homilist. Msgr. Bertagni and Fr. Bernard assisted at the altar. In his homily, he spoke of the need for us to use the goods of this world for the valid reasons of seeking our rewards in heaven.

Our talks began with Cardinal Paul Cordes, President Emeritus Cor Unum, who spoke on the topic, "A Paradigm Shift: the Aim of Caritas and its Agents". The Cardinal expressed his pleasure that this conference sought to link formally the proclamation of the Gospel with acts of charity. This reminds us that we have a rich heritage of charity throughout the history of the Church as exemplified in the lives of saints founded in the principles of the Gospel. This is what sets Christian endeavors apart from those of the secular world.

Catholics in their institutions can be very proud of their works by which they manifest the fundamental rapport with God. How does one ensure that our programs and projects are directly linked to the proclamation of the Gospel? While services are remarkable and vital, without the direct connection to the Gospel in a visible manner, they are not Catholic. When Christian charity is overwhelmed by principles of secular humanism, it becomes mere philanthropy. The result of confusion in this area brought about the development of a papal encyclical which outlined the principles of Catholic charity.

Only true faith gives us the foundation of true charity toward the other. This was first explored by Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical, Rerum novarum. In the second half of the twentieth century, the Church realized that contemporary philosophy was not enough. Now references were made to the Scriptures themselves. This began with Pope St. John XXIII in Pacem in terris and continued through the thoughts of Pope St. John Paul II. Thus, social teaching underwent a transfer from a philosophical to a theological vision.

The process in writing the encyclical Deus Caritas est was begun in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II in February 2003. In the summer of the following year, the first draft of this document was rejected by the commission charged in this process. With his election in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI chose love as the topic of his inaugural encyclical which was published in January of 2006. It is an inexhaustible compendium for every person working in the areas of charity for there is no help without God. This was a paradigm shift. God is placed at the heart and center of all charitable work. There are four main themes which can be gleaned from this document:
  1. The Church does not claim to have a political solution, a third way, but can offer insights for the correct paths to justice.
  2. Governmental providence is an illusion. There will never be a world in which charity will not be needed.
  3. Everything originates from the love of God, is shaped by God, is directed to God.
  4. Love is central to the development of humanity. Wisdom must be seasoned by the salt of love.
The encyclical is not theory, but a theology which contains a wealth of suggestions and applications. It is not just a discussion document, but rather, a document of directions. Intimate union with God through ecclesial agencies of charity has to be the basis of Catholic social doctrine. The effectiveness of Christian charity depends upon the depth of understanding of and commitment to this encyclical by those who do the work.

The Cardinal then offered words of encouragement to all gathered. He commended the work of Cross Catholic Outreach and other groups present and admonished all to root their work in a personal encounter with God in the presence of Jesus Christ. In the typical Italian phrase, he simply said, "Avanti" which means go forward. He ended his talk quoting from the document that they who do not give God, give too little".

The afternoon session consisted of two panels which sought to further explore the ideas of Evangelii Gaudium in both theory and practice. Three of the speakers on the first panel explored the ideas of love and truth as integrally connected. This was seen in examples such as Jesus' encounter with the rich young man who although he did not respond to the call of God, nevertheless, had been looked at by Jesus with the eyes of love. The essence of Christian charity is in the Trinity and we are not just a religion, but we are a revelation for all other religions.

Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, Spiritual Director at the North American College and former Cor Unum staff member, spoke on the topic as to why the Church is not an NGO. Msgr. Anthony stressed that the Church needs to be a mother, one who goes beyond oneself and anticipates the needs of others. An NGO is task-oriented. It is concerned with services, advocacy, political dealings, expertise, analysis, environmental impacts. The Church, however, needs always to begin in divine revelation. We live in a world which has been created as good. Through the free will of man sin entered the world and from that time forward, the consequences of that sin is the reality of a human condition that is damaged. There are three approaches to dealing with this state of mankind.
  1. Theocentric vision - God's will is that we should share in his divine nature and we do this by proclaiming the Word through sacraments and charity. Charity is to go out of oneself to bring God to others. Every act of charity is an act of God, for love is a theological virtue. It is evangelization.
  2. Antrhopological vision - the focus on the human person is not only in the material nature of humanity, but rather one of body and soul. This is the integral vision of the human person. We seek to open the person up to what is beyond him. As Pope Francis stated, often the real poverty of man is the absence of hope.
  3. Contemplative Vision - love cannot be given unless it is first drawn from a source, which is God. We cannot hope to engage in acts of charity if we are not nourished from the source of love Himself.
The second panel involved five specific examples of charity in action as seen through these theological lenses. In addition to panelists from France, Italy and the Phillipines, our own Jim Cavnar presented his vision of the core values and principles of Cross Catholic Outreach. Jim outlined the focus of Cross Catholic Outreach as an integrated model approach working with bishops, priests, religious, laity, all missionaries doing great work, but who need the financial assistance that an organization like Cross Catholic Outreach can provide. He stated that we wanted to be involved with other Catholic and Christian agencies in integral ministry and felt that that was our great call and strength.

The conference concluded with this last panel. Henry Cappello, Founder and President of Caritas in Veritate International USA, publicly thanked all the participants who were able to take part in this first venture. He particularly thanked Cross Catholic Outreach for their support in many areas which made this Symposium possible. In particular, he personally thanked Jim Cavnar for his unwavering support and inspiration in sharing our common ministerial values. The Symposium ended with liturgy on Sunday morning followed by the Angelus in St. Peter's Square, with Pope Francis' blessing.


Priests on the altar of St. John Chrysostom


Fr. Bernard Olszewski and Msgr. Ted Bertagni celebrate Mass on Friday at the Altar of St. Peter


Altar boy prepares for Mass this morning at the altar of St. John Paul II


Priests arriving at the altar of St. John Paul II, St. Peter's Basilica


Fr. Bernard Olszewski con-celebrates Mass at the altar of St. John Paul II


Msgr. Ted Bertagni and Fr. Bernard Olszewski were among the con-celebrants at this morning's Mass at the altar of St. John Paul II


Msgr. Ted Bertagni greets Cardinal Paul Cordes, former President Cor Unum at CiVI2014


Jim Cavnar with Cardinal Paul Cordes at CiVI2014


Jim Cavnar, Cardinal Paul Cordes, President Emeritus Cor Unum and Joanne Miceli-Bogash at CiVI2014


His Eminence Cardinal Paul Cordes delivers his address "Paradigm Shift: The Aim of Caritas and its Agents"


Moonlight meets a heavenly morning at St. Peter's


Day 3 began at the altar over the tomb of St. Peter. We were reminded to emulate Peter and accept the call of Jesus to be the rocks upon which Christ continues to build his Church.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, President, Pontifical Council Cor Unum, was the first speaker of the day addressing The Theology of Charity particularly in Deus Caritas est. The topic is dear to the Cardinal's heart because it is the philosophy of Cor Unum and the encyclical provides theological depth for the works of the Pontifical Council. The Cardinal stated that there are misconceptions about charity. The word "love" is spoiled, worn out. Yet it is a primordial word which must be taken up again and reconfigured, redefined in its true sense. Charity is in the very nature of humanity, its reality is inscribed in the heart of man. But even the Church's unique contribution to the world of charity can be diluted and spoiled.

Humanity finds itself immersed in the phenomena of globalization. This is a movement towards homogenization, and the world seeks to present human development based on laws of economics and technology. This encourages religious indifference and secularism, so that even among Christians there is a danger of silence. Given all these realities of materialistic anthropology, man's religious nature is suppressed. This can also affect a religious sense of charity. In contemporary political minds, justice was seen as primary over charity, in which God is put to the side. This could also be the case in Christian charity. Blessed Paul VI stated that the whole Church in acting upon charity is engaged in integral development. This integrated human development must be seen as a reality of charity, for there is a risk of having Christian charitable assistance become mere human interventions. In our modern day, charitable institutions work with government agencies with public funding. While this professionalism is necessary, it can lead to pragmatism which reduces the integral approach to charity. Cor Unum seeks to focus the attention upon the principles of ecclesial charity which relies directly on the love of God. What constitutes Christian charity? The encyclical affirms a Christ-centered charity which is a constituitive element of Christian life. It cannot be simply a human service agency. Christian charity is rooted in a Christ-centered anthropology based on the fundamental unity of body and soul. Only when both elements are truly addressed and functioning can man be fully human. Eros is transformed to agape by pursuing this spiritual goal. This is the process of opening oneself to the unrequited love of God allowing us to enter into this true love. Thus, Christian charity must come from workers who have opened their lives to the openess of the heart. Through this openess, their work demonstrates that God loves every person and this love is salvific (EG 98). Man can be divided into two parts - religious and secular. Charity is always at the service of body and soul and through this holistic approach, one transforms and addresses the whole of the persons being assisted.

The Church has only one mission: to live and put into practice the life of Christ. For the one who has accepted the primordial love of God, there is an immediate command to share this love with neighbor. This implies several key principles:
  • -God who is love is the source of our charitable activity. Thus the deeper this relationship, the more one can share.
  • -One cannot give to others what one does not have, and thus an essential need for prayer and sacraments.
  • -While the social dimensions of charity are evident, charity must be primary over justice, which is a political responsibility.
  • -The service of the Church's charity must be linked to the essential life of the Church - kerygma, sacraments, prayer.
  • -An important aspect of the Church's charity is the link with bishops in local dioceses
  • -The intrinsic bond between charity and evangelization is witness and love - only in this way is it a reflection of divine love.
  • -Christian charity is not proselytizing, but is witnessing - being salt of the earth and light for the world.
  • -Real poverty is not material need of food and water, but the lack of God and the experience of the living Christ in one's life.
  • -From the beginning of time, Christian charity has always been linked with witness to the faith
  • -Recipients of charity recognize that through the human instrument, Christ is received into one's life, even for those who do not believe.
More than ever, the world needs the witness of Christian charity. God is love and love is the only key to understanding and dealing with the problems of the world. It is through charity that the essential message of the love of God and the Gospel are proclaimed.

The next speaker was Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, who has been preacher to the papal household for 34 years. He spoke about social signficance of the Gospel. In the New Testament there is an insistence on the active nature of faith (1John, James). In Jersusalem this translated into a community of sharing. This was not driven by a desire or ideal of poverty, but rather a desire for charity. It was simply the following of the example of Jesus. This was the theology which guided the ecclesiastical life of the first three centuries, addressing special needs of the community. In the 19th century, the focus was changed to the root of the problems. This fundamental shift was seen as threatening and was addressed by Leo XIII in Rerum novarum. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is in the same category.

St Gregory the Great stated that sacred scripture grows with those who read it and thus scriptural interpretation underwent an adaptation to the cultural realities of the 19th and 20th centuries. Fr. Cantalamessa outlined three approaches to the understanding of Jesus and Christianity which arose at this time: liberal theology, dialectical theology and magisterium. His focus was on the magisterial approach, which is one of syncritism. The Gospel does not provide us with direct answers, but rather provides the tools by which answers can be crafted. This is the very essence of the papal encyclicals Populorum Progressio of Blessed Paul VI, Caritas in Veritate of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Evangelii Gaudium of Pope Francis. Pope Francis in his encyclical stressed the necessity for the social inclusion of the poor because both popes, Benedict and Francis, based their teaching not on a theory, but on an event - the encounter with Jesus Christ, which gives life a new direction. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stated if in our charity, we abandon the Gospel, then charity is useless.

In his second presentation, Eros and Agape: Reflections on Deus Caritas est, Fr. Cantalamessa began with the observation that in contemporary society there is a dichotomy between these two concepts of love, but Benedict XVI emphasized the essential need for both. First of all, this is a biblical concept. God does not love us only with agape, but also with an erotic love as exemplified in the Song of Songs and the imagery of Jesus and the Church as bride. This influence came from the work of a Swedish theologian who reminded us that God gives us love and we have nothing to return. This is the ascending love of St. Augustine - you have created us as your own, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. In St. Thomas Aquinas, the concept of ascending love immediately involves grace to love in return. In the New Testament we do not find the word eros only agape. Early Christians being simple people avoided the term eros because of its secular connotation. When later exposed to Platonic thought, Christians understood eros as love of beauty. As early as Origen, the phrase "God is Love" was translated as eros, not agape. The love of God must involve sacrifice, restraint and denial, but must also be a desire, a want, an enthusiasm, an ardor. Pope Benedict applies this first to spouses in marriage. It is also true for those in consecrated life. This is revealed to us in Jesus because we love a God who became flesh and blood. We do not love a God in the Cloud of Unknowing, but love a God made real in human form. To realize the fullness of the ideas of eros and agape, we must fall in love with Jesus Christ.

The redemption of eros means the redemption of beauty. We must give attention to the search for beauty in the world. In Platonic thought the form Beauty draws and attracts, but Scripture warns against the lure of beauty. The beauty of eros is generated by the beauty of the body. In affluent society, the exultation of the body can be a misguided driving force. Christianity must correct this pursuit of beauty and see it as a godly pursuit. How do we evangelize a world which has distorted the concept of beauty? Dostoyevesky wrote that beauty will save the world - but what kind of beauty? Beauty itself becomes dehumanized through the dehumanization of persons. This arises out of the very nature of man who is material and immaterial. The reality of free will allows us to choose how we will react to beauty. The ambiguity of beauty is seen in the bible. The exultation of beauty in the Song of Songs vs. the distortion or ill effects of beauty in the story of David and Bathsheba. In our own representations of beauty, the focus is diverted from the face, which contains the essence of ideas, feelings and emotions and it is misplaced in other parts of the body. How does Jesus redeem beauty as he did eros? He does so by depriving himself of beauty through his suffering and death, through the ignominy and deformity of the cross. Beauty is no longer the splendor of truth, but is now the splendor of Jesus, the risen Lord. This beauty comes from within. The human body becomes the sacrament, the sign and the means of recognizing divine beauty. There is something superior to the love of beauty and it is the beauty of love. Francis of Assisi is the most radical model to this approach to life. We can now enjoy the beauty of creation if we see it through the salvation of the Cross. We move from external beauty to internal beauty and finally transcendent beauty. Man is what he looks at, not just closing one's eyes to false beauty, but rather opening our eyes to true beauty, a redeemed beauty which redeems.

Fr. Cantalamessa's final presentation was Caritas in St. Paul. He focused his talk on the Letter of Paul to the Romans and began with the introduction in which Paul calls the Romans "beloved of God". This is significant because it is God who loved us first. God's love for us is by far greater than our love for God, for this response is only possible because God loves us first. St. Augustine wrote that if all the bibles of the world were destroyed and only one page were left and of that page only one line was readable, if it were the line of John that "God is love", then the whole bible would be saved. This gives the fundamental assurance that no matter what happens in one's life, one always has the love of God. The root of charity is the love of God transmitted by the Holy Spirit. The life of God which resides in the trinity now resides in us, and as Peter wrote, we become participants in the divine life. In Romans Chapter 7, charity is the defined as the law of the spirit and that law sets us free from the law of sin. St. Augustine wrote that there are two ways of life. One is that of law from the time of Moses to the monastic rules of the 3rd century. These laws prevent us from things. The second way of life is the life of the spirit which frees us to move toward something. Paul continues in Chapter 8 in his questioning who can separate us from the love of God. The answer is that nothing can, for the love of God for us is the overwhelming power of God to heal us. There is a danger that our evangelization remain at the level of the head. This has to be connected to the heart and the love of others, the moral virtue of being able to love ourselves and others as God has loved us. From Chapter 12 on, Paul instructs us how to make love real and begins the list of "oughts" which flow from the unmerited, unearned love by God. The first command is love; love without pretense (agape) which must be sincere, from the heart. The love of others must come from a love in the heart, otherwise it is not love. This love must be sincere, for the love of the hands must be accompanied by the love of the heart. St. Augustine wrote, "Love God and do what you will!" This exhortation of love understood properly will never allow us to sin against love for we will always act with our heart and a heart full of love cannot be wrong.

The remaining sessions of the day were spent in sharing ways by which the theological principles examined in the morning might be translated into action. These insights were followed by small group sharing, which sought to bring these ideas to a deeper, personal level for each of the participants.


Earlier today, Cross Catholic Outreach President Jim Cavnar and Msgr Ted Bertagni, Director of Clergy and Diocesan Relations, met with Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum as both organizations continue their collaboration to effect the Holy Father's outreach to the poorest of the poor.

11-06-14 - BREAKING NEWS

Jim Cavnar had a private meeting with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, author of the encyclical Deus caritas est. More details about the meeting will be posted soon!


The second day of. the conference began in the Chapel of the Canons in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar over the tomb of St. John Chrysostom as we were reminded by Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, the main celebrant and homilist for the liturgy, Chrysostom means “golden tongued” and is thus most appropriate for proclaiming the Gospel of Evangelization.

In his homily, based on the parables of the shepherd and the hundred sheep and the woman with the coins in the house, this is a gospel within a gospel and speaks to the heart of Jesus. It reminds us that God looks at us first, and any response we make is itself a grace. There is no rationality in the call to love by God. How do we move the heart of God? We repent and return to Him, for repentance is the Good News. Jesus cares for us individually, one by one and would have approached the cross for any single one of us. This helps us in our ministry as we have been reminded by Pope Francis in his theology of encounter. Every message of charity is first a message of Jesus, for as Paul reminds us, everything is rubbish except for Jesus. In prayer, the same Holy Spirit is poured into us as it was into Jesus and in that moment we can be one with God.

The presentations continued at The Patristic Institute. Professor Silvestro Paluzzi, Professor of Psychology at the Pontifical Urban University spoke about the human psychology of the encounter of Jesus. It is an opportunity to encounter oneself and re-decide our faith in this time of New Evangelization. He presented an attempt at a scientific answer to translate the general principles of the teachings of the Church to believers and the “distant”. He focused his attention on Evangelii Gaudium #8, specifically the encounter with the person. The effect of this is the counter-action against self-reliance so that we can let God brings us beyond ourselves to the fullest capacity of our humanity. We become fully human when we become more than human. This rediscovery, the encounter and acceptance of God’s love, gives us the desire to go outside of ourselves on a certain path. This is a re-decision of faith seeking to rid oneself of ego-referring thought and behavior. He then spoke about the methods by which one could achieve this end with reference to human psychology.

He spoke about the art of accompaniment in which we are trained in the art of listening, not just hearing. This is ability of the heart to allow closeness without which a true spiritual encounter does not exist. In our technological new generations are orphans of a living relationship, many operating in virtual relationships. The kerygmatic proclamation, the essential life-giving message of Christianity, must be presented in such a manner that it touches the hearts of the hearers. Referring to Evangelii Gaudium #129 this must be a process of person to person. If we allow doubts and fears to dampen our courage instead of being creative and brave, we will indeed remain comfortable in our faith as we watch the Church slip by while retaining a stagnant faith.

Archbishop Reno Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, also addressed the essence of Evangelii Gaudium, stated that this is the only document which truly belongs to Pope Francis written after the conclusion of the Synod on the New Evangelization. He, too, focused his attention on #8 of the document. The culture of encounter asks two questions: to meet whom and why? The whom is to meet God and his love and his mercy. Faith and love are key and essential and are to be taken together. Love generates faith and faith sustains love (1 Peter: happy are you because you love without seeing). There is a light of faith because there is a light of love. The reasons of the heart are the key to the New Evangelization. If we wish to explain the elements of our faith, we need to underline the reality of the heart. The encounter is interpersonal: to touch the truth of faith, we need the encounter of the heart. Cardinal John Henry Newman wrote of the encounter of hearts in his works, and Francis stresses that the priority of this encounter comes from God – “Gratia facit fidem”. In other religions this encounter comes from man. Only in Christianity is this the initiative of God. In Dei Verbum we read God wants “to stay with us”, God is the priority of this encounter. In any encounter God has preceded us first. #24 of the document God takes the initiative in the encounter of New Evangelization, sending out people to further this event.

The second question is how? If we truly want to encounter the face of God, we need contemplation – “evangelization is made on our knees”. The Pope in an address to religious men and women during the Year of Faith stressed the primacy of contemplation over action. What is essential? To keep our eyes fixed on the face of Christ, to stay with him in silence, listening to the voice of Christ. We know “silences” but not “silence”. Silence comes before all language. It is how we learn to speak. How can we speak about Christ if we do not listen to Him? Allow Jesus to contemplate us, hearts speaking to hearts. For what do we proclaim ourselves? Or what we have seen and heard? And how do we share? Through the mysticism of fraternity. We are not only on a level of human reality, but are founded on the deepest and fullest reality of Jesus himself. The mysticism of living together is the sharing of heart to heart, holding one another, journeying on the caravan of pilgrimage in a coherent way. We discover how to transform the events of our lives through this recognition through the presence of God. We then share our history, proclaiming we are disciples, believers, people who love God. In being followers, we recognize our responsibility to transform our world. In a homily of Pope Francis on March 20, 2013, Pope Francis said that we have to walk, to build, to confess. To walk with the people of today, a believer is never alone, for how can we be a true part of this community, this Church? This is counter to the individualism of contemporary culture. To walk means to go out to encounter people, to understand and not to judge. To build: to be able to create a size of salvation reading the signs of the times in light of the Gospel. It is the work and presence of God, but we must create new signs for this New Evangelization. It means to give a complete understanding of the message – salvation is Eucharist and no one should be in need. We need to witness with joy saying to ourselves, I met Jesus Christ and He changed my life and I can now change the world. To confess: before doctrine, it is necessary to proclaim the mercy and love of God. The very first expression of God’s being in the book of Exodus is not I Am Who I Am, but, I am Merciful. The story of the prodigal son reveals that mercy is patience, thus the essence of our confessional faith is mercy (Evangelii Gaudium 24). We can demonstrate this if we allow ourselves to personally experience the mercy of God. Do not let anyone rob us of the joy of evangelization which is the communication of the encounter with Christ.

We then heard from Fr. Andrea Pupilla, Director of Caritas, in the Diocese of San Severo, in the southern region of Italy, Puglia. His presentation revolved around the realities of poverty and the plight of refugees, economic, political, religious and other types. He gave statistics of the number of people displaced each year because they are fleeing persecution, danger, disasters or despair. He then posed the question, what does the Church do in the face of this? The Church must raise its voice, extending help, both physical/material as well as spiritual. The Church must recognize the face of Christ in every person, especially those who are abandoned, abused or exploited. The Church must ensure that refugees have their rights respected as human beings, for the Church as a whole, is called to live the reality of a life of charity. Every member of the Church has the responsibility to live the commandment of Christ – love one another. As St. Francis of Assisi said: preach the Gospel, if necessary, use words. This is the power of action, of gesture, of signs, not just words, for sometimes, words explains gestures, but they can also obscure their meaning. The first journey of Pope Francis in his pontificate was to Lampadusa, a city which is the center of refugees entering Italy. He went to celebrate Mass with them, to cry with them and to embrace them. Pope Francis emphasized charity is not just giving of goods, but it is touching the flesh and blood of the people of God who make up the body of Christ. How difficult it is “with people” in community? Pope Francis emphasized to serve is to be with people in their need, to hold out a hand, to share in their needs. The first form of charity is to listen – to listen to the cry of the poor, for it is the call of God. To listen to the cry of the poor is to do the will of God, for the poor are the guides to an interior life with God. The insecurity and needs of the poor take from us egoism and self-centeredness and reveal to us the greatness of God’s love. To defend the rights of the poor we need to not serve ourselves but put our own wants and needs aside.

The remainder of the day was spent in small group discussion on various ways of understanding the materials which have been presented and seeing some models in action.


On the first day of the CiVI meeting, participants were welcomed by Jim Cavnar and other co-sponsors of the Symposium. The gathering was opened with a musical prayer event led by Magnificat Dominium who will also serve on a panel on Thursday.

After initial greetings, Fr. Albert Trevisiol, Rector of the Pontifical Urban University gave an overview of the need for “mission” to impel and inform culture, reminding us that unity prevails over conflict and that reality is more important than ideas. He pointed out that the model of a circle is not adequate for our purposes since all are not equidistant to center of the circle. The poor must be part of this figure and therefore an integrated unity of the model is key because there is great importance of unity in diversity. He made the point that uniformity is neither Catholic nor Christian since all of this is based on the foundational encounter with God. He quoted the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, saying that whoever has been given a great joy must give it away and so it is with love. This means that mutual encounters between cultures and Christ will be based upon the light of truth. Jim then spoke reminding participants of our foundational concept of integral charity highlighting that true charity meets not only physical needs but also spiritual needs through evangelization, and these thoughts have been highlighted by the last three popes.

The next speaker, was Cardinal Prospero Grech, founder of the Pontifical Patristic Institute, who spoke about preaching the Word through charity. Cardinal Grech traced the biblical models of charity from the Old into the New Testament. He stated that while charity to strangers was basically unknown in the world of the Israelites because of wariness of strangers, nevertheless, heartlessness, brands one as inhuman in the Old Testament. Charity included almsgiving and charity, but was bigger than each and of both of those realities. Christian charity is not solely for Christian evangelization but primarily for love. It is an anointment of love. In the New Testament, Jesus’ miracles are noted for their sign value, pointing to himself as the Messiah. There are miracles of healing, exorcism and over nature, all seen as gifts to the needy. Charity in truth is expressed is best clearly in the Johannine pattern of miracles in which the gift of God is to both donor and receiver, manifesting faith in Jesus as Messiah and calling for an adequate response to one or both. The key in the miracle accounts is the right intention. For the recipient, human warmth, read charity, is not for personal merit. God comes here to make humanity more human. This is not the end of the beginning but the beginning of the end, leading us to the fullness of love through Christ. Only with charity and faith can one achieve any humanizing development in the world.

The last speaker of the evening, was Vittorino Grossi, President of the Pontifical Patristic Institute. In his remarks, he attempted to connect charity in the fathers of the church and the thoughts expressed by Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est. He began with the papal thoughts that love and salvation are integrally linked and that the love of God is never experienced without principles of justice. Therefore, the love of the Church demands addressing the needs of all. Charity in truth must act in harmony as traced back to the theology of St. John, for charity is about sharing discipleship. The vision of Christian development is one of not only culture and technology, but one of love and truth because there is only one family of man. He attempted then to trace the theology of St. Augustine in which these ideas were manifested. Christ is the remedy for our weaknesses, the Word of God is the medicine of humanity. Love and truth meet in the Incarnation and therefore, love is the only universal imperative of the life of Christ.

Given that presentations were longer than anticipated, we adjourned for the evening, with the intention of beginning our discussions as to how to begin translating these academic ideas into lived realities.

The above statement was Pope Francis’ first articulated vision for our Church – and has since become a clarion call to care for the poor. Cross Catholic Outreach is dedicated to helping the poor break the cycle of poverty, and, doing our best to carry his vision for the New Evangelization forward, Cross will co-sponsor an International Leaders Forum with Caritas in Veritate International at the Universita’ Urbaniana the week of November 5th through the 9th.

Cross Catholic Outreach President James J. Cavnar will be on the panel “Encountering Jesus in the Face of the Poor”. This topic reflects a core concept of our organization, which applies a unique approach to our holistic ministry – “helping the poorest of the poor”.

Click here to listen to Cross Catholic Outreach’s President, Jim Cavnar, speak with Teresa Tomeo of the Catholic Connection (EWTN Global Catholic Network) about the Leadership Forum taking place in Rome next month.

Cross Catholic Outreach will be posting regular updates
from the International Leaders Forum on:

Be sure to check these venues frequently for news, photos, and interviews during the week.


Cross Catholic Outreach

2700 N. Military Trail, Suite 240

PO Box 273908

Boca Raton, Florida 33427-3908


Cross Catholic Outreach is a 501c3

CCO Background Stats 2016