FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT CHARITY must no longer
be a "handout" helping the poor but rather a hand helping the poor to help themselves, proposed relief experts from 90 nations at the ninth general 'assembly in Rome of Caritas Internationalis, the international Catholic charities organisation.
At a news conference concluding the assembly, the vicepresident of Caritas for Europe, Juan Masip of Spain, said of the recommendation: "The delegates seem to be saying to the mature agencies that they must think differently about aid to the poor. This aid is nothing unless the giver shows a real concern to the receiver, a concern aimed at putting him on his feet again."
The new president of Caritas Internationalis, Mgr. Charles Vath, said that Caritas members must continue to work through relief agencies in any stricken country.
Mgr. Vath, who founded Hong Kong Caritas in 1953, said: "I would resent anyone coming into Hong Kong and telling me how to aid my refugees. If they want to help me, okay, but if they want to take over, no thanks."
A recent example of Catholic agencies co-operating with the local Caritas was the en
campment of 10 million refugees along the Indian border before Bangladesh became a new nation.
The president of India Caritas, Bishop Ignatius Lobo, of the Diocese of Belgaum, who oversaw the entire Catholic aid programme during that emergency, said : "India Caritas has been praised for its efforts of co-ordination, but nothing could have been done without the help of our Caritas partners from around the world.
"But even more important is our task to lead the poor toward their own development, so a people can feel they are moving eward a better life, not just getting a handout."•
The assembly also recorn-* mended that Caritas Internetionalis begin training personnel for local Caritas agencies.
Political implications of relief work in trouble spots were mentioned in a report of a working group of the assembly.
Stating that the role of Caritas was "practically always subsidiary," the report said that the demands of justice must be met before the demands of governments.
"Even if the role of Caritas should bring with it indirect political implications. Caritas should always emphasise the demands of justice."