Your Eminence, Peter Cardinal TURKSON, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, Vatican City,
Your Eminence, Arlindo Cardinal FUTARDO, Bishop of Santiago, Cape Verde,
Your Excellencies, The Members of RECOWA Standing Committee,
Your Excellencies, The Presidents of the National / Inter-Territorial Conferences,
Officials of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS),
We have gathered at the end of RECOWA’s 6th Standing Committee meeting, and now we are begining the workshop on Social Investment.
On behalf of the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops of our Conference, and in my own name I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to CRS for its continuous support to our Conference. Today’s workshop is another manifestation of the positive disposition of CRS towards RECOWA. In 2015, CRS assisted RECOWA in the organization of the 2nd Plenary Assembly and actively took part in it in Ghana. In 2016, CRS made a grant for the organisation of a workshop on Inter-religious Dialogue. Owing to understaffing of our Secretariat this work could not be carried out but it has been rescheduled for this year. We are here in 2018 at this social investment workshop because of the support of CRS. CRS covered the travel expenses of the Presidents of the National/Inter-territorial Conferences.
Please, Ms Morgan, extend our appreciation to the entire CRS team in Baltimore.
Dear brothers in the episcopate, today’s workshop is a follow-up to the one organised for the regional Conferences world-wide in June 2016 in Rome on the theme « Making the year of Mercy a year of Social Impact for the poor ». At that workshop our Conference was represented by RECOWA Secretary General and the Chairman of Justice and Peace.
Social investment is understood as the use of private capital often in connection with charitable capital and public capital to resolve large scale social problems. Investment in social enterprises under suitable conditions is so that social services could be further supported by an income stream which offers profitable social measures for the poor and the investors
This kind of investment is relevant to the Catholic Church for two reasons.
a) The broad network of high quality and sustainable social services that the Church has provided to the poor in the world for centuries.
b) The movement of donors and charity foundations, including the movement of private investors to this model of finance is to resolve large scale social problems.
During the openning ceremony on Saturday, I drew our attention to the fact that about sixty five percent (65%) of our population is made up of the youth. Unfortunately, the majority of them are unemployed and therefore highly exposed to human trafficking, drug abuse, violence and forced migrations, etc. I added that « as long as they remain without jobs after their graduation from school and move about in our sub-region, they are easy preys to warlords and political criminals, who may recruit them for violent crimes and terrorism. There is an urgent need to reverse this trend by putting in place appropriate measures and incentives to create gainful employment opportunities for our youth”. I also asked the question about what we should do as Church to address this problem and where to find the means to do it .
With today’s workshop we shall be presented with the opportunity to address some of the social problems our people are confronted with. This workshop will equip us to be not only agents of evangelisation but also agents of social and integral development. This is why we highly appreciate the presence of His Eminence Peter Cardinal TURKSON, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development who is also a founding member of our regional Conference and a fervent promoter of Social Investment.
My dear Brothers in the Episcopate, the time has come for us to initiate activities that can help us address social problems while evangelizing. We cannot continue to rely only on collections, bazaars, tithes or ocassional donations.
As we prepare to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar in Kampala in July next year, let us remember what Pope Paul VI said in Uganda in 1969: “You are your own missionaries”. If this has been realized at the spiritual and pastoral levels, we thank God ; but it must also become a reality at the level of our financial and material structures.
Your presence here, my dear brother Presidents of the National Conferences, is a clear manifestation of your desire to make this dream a reality : the dream to become agents of evangelization and of integral human development.
It is my prayer that, each one of us would go home more inspired and equipped to put ourselves at the material service of the Church and the poor.
In conclusion, I thank you all for taking time out of your very tight schedules to be present here at this workshop to acquaint ourselves better with social Investment principles, methodology and praxis.
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