Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, colleague of Pope Benedict and president of the Church's global charity for the needy, will speak at Fairfield University

Image: Fairfield campusCardinal Paul Josef Cordes, who as president of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' is a close colleague of Pope Benedict XVI, has been called "president of the world's largest charity." On Wednesday, September 29 at 7 p.m., the Cardinal will speak at Fairfield University about presiding over the Vatican office that coordinates the charitable activity of the Church and Catholic agencies around the world.

The event will begin with a short program performed by the World Youth Alliance Chamber Orchestra. The orchestra is comprised of students from New York's most prestigious music programs: the Julliard School of Music, Manhattan School of Music and Mannes. The young musicians, who range in age from 10 to 21, are all committed to promoting the dignity of the human person through their work as performing artists.

Free and open to the public, the events are co-sponsored by Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life and Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP/USA). They will take place in the Oak Room, located in the Barone Campus Center.

The Cardinal's talk coincides with Fairfield's Global Citizenship initiative: As the complexities of globalization become apparent, the University has begun to explicitly orient itself toward the education and formation of students to be global citizens.

Rev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J., director of the Center for Faith and Public Life, said the Cardinal's visit to campus is a great opportunity to explore global citizenship with "one of the most dynamic leaders in the Catholic Church today." The Cardinal, he says, "directs the complex world of charitable outreach of the Church and is a close advisor of Pope Benedict on social issues. Cardinal Cordes in his person and in his apostolic work wonderfully reflects the social responsibility that comes with being in solidarity with the global human family."

Cardinal Cordes distributes relief aid on behalf of the Church. Most recently, he gave donations to Pakistan for flood relief. "What is most striking about the charitable approach of Cardinal Cordes is his continual emphasis on the role of faith in relieving human suffering," Fr. Ryscavage said. "He understands that giving money is never enough in a humanitarian disaster".

During his daylong visit to campus, Cardinal Cordes will also engage in a dialogue with the Fairfield community on an issue of great importance to the Pope - the Catholic vision in the public square. During his 2008 trip to the United States, the Pope spoke to American cardinals and bishops in Washington, D.C., and gave his assessment of the challenge of increasing secularism in public life and relativism in intellectual life in the United States. He also offered his thoughts on how to confront these challenges pastorally and evangelize more effectively.  

"The Church in America is faced with the challenge of recapturing the Catholic vision of reality and presenting it, in an engaging and imaginative way," Benedict told Church leaders at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. "This demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one's deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate."  

John Paul II named Cardinal Cordes vice president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 1980, and later made him responsible for the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office and the Neo-Catechumenical Way, a post he held until 1995. Involvement with the San Lorenzo International Youth Centre led him to plan a World Youth Meeting. It was held on Palm Sunday, 1984, which thus marked the beginning of the World Youth Days. In 1995, the Cardinal became archbishop and was appointed president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," overseeing the Roman Catholic Church's global charity for the needy.

For more information about the Center for Faith and Public Life, visit or call (203) 254-4000, ext. 3461.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726,

Posted on September 13, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 38

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