From the war on drugs, now to the war on solitude, Caritas enters 50th year

The Catholic social work organisation will celebrate its 50th year of existence with a campaign battling solitude in 2019

Caritas Malta director Anthony Gatt said the organisation was concerned with the constant threat to the value of compassion. “Caritas, the term, is mostly thought of as meaning charity, but it means love that implies compassion, love in action. This is being threatened.”
Caritas Malta director Anthony Gatt said the organisation was concerned with the constant threat to the value of compassion. “Caritas, the term, is mostly thought of as meaning charity, but it means love that implies compassion, love in action. This is being threatened.”

The Catholic social work charity Caritas is celebrating 50 years since it was set up, and announcing its campaign for 2019 to fight against the social stigma of loneliness. 

Of 3,000 calls made to the Caritas helpline in 2018, 900 of them were made by people who were facing solitude, and Caritas Malta said it will now team up with the University of Malta’s Faculty of Social Wellbeing to help raise awareness. 

Caritas Malta director Anthony Gatt said the organisation was concerned with the constant threat to the value of compassion. “Caritas, the term, is mostly thought of as meaning charity, but it means love that implies compassion, love in action. This is being threatened.” 

Gatt said lack of compassion was manifesting itself in Malta through a lack of family time, an increase in marital separation and divorce, a lack of attention to environmental recycling and sustainability, and a rising gap between the rich and poor. 

Gatt also expressed his disapproval at recent reforms to make medical cannabis available. “We believe this does more damage than good. If you start removing sanctions, many will start thinking that it’s not a big deal.” 

He said that there were many adolescents who were still seeking out drugs like cocaine and cannabis. “This could lead to experimentation with other drugs, or worse, dependence. It’s time to ask why these drugs are sought.” 

Gatt evinced a belief that solitude may play a part in increase drug taking, saying that avoiding solitude had nothing to do with simply being surrounded by people. “Sometimes, at some points in your life, you’ll have to face a situation alone, but knowing that there’s a support group around you may make all the difference.” 

“We’re not living in an ivory tower,” faculty dean Prof. Andrew Azzopardi said of his role in the upcoming campaign. “As academics, we shouldn’t just be lecturing and writing papers, but also working within the community.” 

Caritas Malta inaugurated its new logo and a programme intended to fight solitude in 2019 in collaboration with the Faculty of Social Wellbeing. The organisation also unveiled its #caritasin50ways campaign where a video clip will be uploaded once a week throughout 2019 on multiple social media platforms to sensitise people to this issue of solitude. 

Caritas Malta was founded in 1968 by Fr Fortunato Mizzi under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church. 

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