On 13 to 15 February, our community was host to the
participants in a formation session for the priests of the three Catholic
dioceses of our country.
This session was organized by Caritas Bulgaria in
collaboration with Caritas Italy. Caritas is an international organization
that presents itself in the following manner on its Internet site:
“Caritas International is a confederation of 162 Catholic organizations
for help, development, and social service. Its goal is to build a better
world with a special focus on the poor and oppressed in more than 200
countries and territories.
Caritas pursues its work without distinction of
religion, race, sex, or ethnicity and counts as one of the largest
humanitarian resources in the world…
Caritas’ approach is based on the social teaching of the Church with an
accent on the dignity of the human person.
Caritas’ work with the poor strives to manifest God’s love for all of
creation. It has the socio-pastoral orientation of the Church and will
continue to deploy all its efforts to promote the social mission of the
Church and help the Church understand the specific role that Caritas is to
In Bulgaria, Caritas is a very active organization involved in many aid
and solidarity projects in collaboration with the local Church.
The goals of this formation session that took place in our Assumptionist
community was to reflect on the social doctrine of the Church in order to
help priests become formators and develop socio-pastoral activities in
On this level, the stakes are very important
concerning a reciprocal collaboration and enrichment among the Churches
since there is almost no social doctrine in the Orthodox Church.
Some ten priests took part and on the first day, Bishop Petko CHRISTOV,
bishop of the Latin rite diocese of North Bulgaria, was present. Dom
Giovanni Perini, Italian biblical scholar, who works with Caritas Italy,
led the meeting. Almost all of the proceedings were held in Italian since
almost all of the priests studied in Italy, although a bit of French and
English were used.
The work proposed to us was to reflect on the identity of the human person
taking into consideration historical, political and social events that
marked the development of the Western civilization during the last century.
After events like the extermination of Jews, destructions and wars
provoked by totalitarian regimes, is it possible to maintain the same idea
of man that we formerly had? What idea of development and connection with
material goods should we promote?
The social and economic models of recent and present history created an
unbalanced world with situations of injustice and discrimination that are
no longer tenable.
Other models have to be sought through a new
reflection concerning man and his relationship to material goods.
This starting point led us through an interesting journey in philosophy,
psychology, and theology to try to better define our Christian identity
and life in the present world.
Pope Benedict XVI never misses an occasion to warn us against secularism
and relativism in our society. What attitude should we adopt in the heart
of our societies that tend to exclude God or relativize Christian values?
According to our speaker, the official Church has not yet totally gone
beyond the Galilee matter, that is to say, an attitude of lack of trust
concerning the problems presented through scientific evolution that opens
us to new ethical reflections.
What is the correct position to take concerning a secularized society?
Is it a danger for the Christian community?
Oftentimes the Church limits itself to condemning it, but are we able to
define our Christian identity by opposition to others?
Is it possible to lose one’s faith because of an
external factor or shouldn’t the reflection rather develop itself inside
the Church and be centered on its capacity to witness to Christ?
Does not the attitude of opposition become one of
the elements that contribute to develop secularism and remove people from
These questions stimulated us during the whole session and became the
occasion to return to the beginnings of the Christian experience.
We looked at St. Paul’s missionary method and his way of founding small
churches that were like yeast in a reality that remained foreign to the
Our speaker invited us to notice that in certain situations the apostle
Paul was invited to announce the ‘Good News’ where the Lord already had
had people ready to receive it (Acts 18:10: ‘I have so many people on my
side in this city.”) This remark permitted us to reflect on our missionary
activity. God goes before us to the place where He calls us to witness.
The missionary does not have the task to give rise
to faith, but to bring it to the fore, and make man become conscious of
A formation session by “Caritas” that would not take into account the
Pope’s encyclical: “Deus caritas est” would be inconceivable today.
That is why we decided to consecrate our next
session to reading and reflecting on the encyclical, especially Part Two:
“Caritas. The exercise of love on the part of the Church as a “Community
of love.” ‘
St. Augustine with his affirmation “ You see the Trinity when you see
charity”, could help us understand that the exercise of charity is the
expression of triune love. ~