Seitenstetten: Bishops and Caritas leaders meet together

General Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference opened on Monday – Caritas President before consultations: Hope for “joint admonishing voice bishops” in view of the “multiple crises” at home and abroad

Vienna (KAP) The leaders of Caritas met with the members of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference for consultation. A study day on Caritas topics on Monday afternoon marked the start of the spring plenary assembly of the bishops, which lasts until Thursday under the presidency of Archbishop Franz Lackner. The location of the meeting is the St. Benedict Education Center near Seitenstetten Abbey in Lower Austria. In addition to Caritas President Michael Landau, Secretary General Anna Parr and the head of Caritas foreign aid, Andreas Knapp, all directors of the nine diocesan Caritas organizations took part in the talks.

In an interview with Kathpress, Caritas President Landau emphasized the importance of pointing out the plight of the people “also here in Austria”. The aid organization felt this need in its 71 social counseling centers throughout Austria. “People no longer know how to finance housing, heating, energy and everyday necessities,” says Landau. Political measures such as the residential umbrella or heating cost support did work, but:
“How will it go on? More and more people are concerned about that”. Structural improvements are also needed here, Landau appealed to politicians.

With regard to the Ukraine, one can see how important the help from Austria is, according to Landau: “the help is arriving”. But if you look at Irpin or Bucha and the mass graves, you can see the enormous suffering the war brought. “Here the solidarity of the Austrian bishops is and was an important signal,” said the Caritas President. But there are also signs of hope: “People are amazingly resilient, they try to persevere in the disaster, they repair their houses, they support each other,” said Landau, “everyone stands together”. It is clear that the help for Ukraine will need staying power. “We’ve always said it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” said Landau. It is now becoming more and more important in Austria to “continue to integrate the displaced persons,” says Landau.

“What we need looking ahead is cohesion and confidence,” said the Caritas President with conviction. “We will emerge from this ‘multiple crisis’ changed, whether for better or for worse, that is partly up to us.” Here Landau also hopes for “the joint admonishing voice of the bishops”, which reminds them that respect in dealing with each other, the willingness to hear other perspectives and to put the common in the middle, so the Caritas President

The four-day consultations of the bishops will also deal with the permanent diaconate and its task profile. Around 750 mostly married deacons are currently active in Austria. A fixed point on the episcopal agenda is also the exchange about the current social and church situation. The Apostolic Nuncio to Austria, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, will meet the bishops on Tuesday afternoon. On Tuesday evening at 7 p.m., the bishops will celebrate a celebratory mass in the Seitenstetten collegiate church, to which all believers are invited. The St. Pölten Diocesan Bishop Alois Schwarz will preside over the Eucharistic celebration and also preach.

The end of the plenary assembly of the bishops’ conference is scheduled for Thursday. Archbishop Lackner will provide information about their results at a press conference in Vienna on Friday, March 17, at 10 a.m. in the “Club Stephansplatz 4” (Vienna, 1st district, Stephansplatz 4).

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