by Peter Stanford
OVER 30,000 Catholics packed Cardiff Arms Park on Corpus Christi to hear Archbishop Ward and the Director of Cafod congratulate them on the "staggering sum" they had raised for famine victims in Africa and to urge continued support for drought victims throughout 1985.
Over £5.33 million had been raised by Catholics in England and Wales since the bishops launched their appeal for Africa last May, Julian Filochowski, Director of Cafod, announced at the Mass. Cardiff archdiocese took the total of its contribution to over £186,000 with a collection of £30,000 at Mass which has become an annual event.
The gathering was the largest meeting of Catholics in Wales since the Pope's visit to Cardiff in 1982, and both Archbishop Ward and his auxiliary Bishop Mullins were present as well as the former head of the archdiocese, Archbishop Murphy. All three carried new gold mitres, and Archbishop Ward wore a stoll from Ethiopia.
The Archbishop told his joyous congregation that all were called "to cat at the table of the Altar". He reminded them of another table — "it is a generous table but not all can get to it; too many are deprived of a fair share of that table's food." He went on to warn that "we have not yet seen the worst of the famine in Africa. We celebrate this feast, as we did last year and have done so since, by praying for and giving generously to the starving in Africa".
Mr Filochowski cautidned the congregation that Sudan was facing a crisis of a similar magnitude to that of Ethiopia. In a country that is potentially the breadbasket of Africa, the United Nations now warned that 750,000 people were now at risk. We must guard against "compassion fatigue", he said.
He concluded his address to the Cardiff congregation by reading a recent letter from a missionary priest in Ethiopia who had worked closely with Cafod in dealing with the crisis in Africa. "Without wishing to boast or brag, 1 feel compelled to say that the role of the Catholic Church during this famine has been the sacramental expression of the Good Lord's own compassion on the multitude and within the global context of the 'Catholic Church' I include of course, Cafod, and all its many supporters".
• Mr Filochowski said this week that he was "very sad" that the British Government had decided to withdraw the RAF Hercules transports from Ethiopia in September. They had been a "marvellous symbol of British concern".