Bishop Brian reflects on the final day of the Caritas MONA Conference

Yesterday each nation’s Caritas shared their greatest challenges. Common themes included war, terrorism, lack of security, distrust of and restrictions on Christians, millions of refugees (which have increased several countries population by 50%, and due to a lack of resources, further impoverished locals), huge migration including of unaccompanied minors, tiny numbers of indigenous Christians and lack of funding to better respond.
This all seems incredibly bleak but I can assure you that the light vastly outshines the darkness. I have met so many inspiring people this week, people who daily care for others at great risk to their own lives in Somalia, Syria and Iraq to mention but a few. Being Christian all are a minority in their own countries where some are tolerated, others face discrimination and many persecutions. Yet they all have a deep faith and are determined to remain, witnessing to God’s love as they serve the needy. Each day they make the Church, and so Christ, present to their neighbours. It was up uplifting to see so many youths actively involved in Caritas.
My final visit was to the Cedar Shelter where up to eighty vulnerable women and children are offered a place of safety, food, clothing, education, legal advice, counselling vocational training and love. In each Caritas project, I witnessed a healthy balance of empathy and professionalism. More than that, I witnessed poor disciples, out of love for the Lord, serving others who were in even greater need. We can learn a lot from the Christians of the Arab lands.
Photo – Gathering for the Conference’s Final Mass at the Maronite Catholic Church. There are no pictures from the shelter to protect the residents.