On 29th May 2003, Julian Filochowski, Director of CAFOD, made a farewell visit to Islamic Relief’s Headquarters in Birmingham, as he is shortly to leave his position.
Having worked with CAFOD for twenty years, Mr Filochowski spoke of the immense changes he has witnessed in the standard of faith-based organisations during this time. From the suspicion with which they were initially received, a strong trust has been built both with the donor communities and beneficiaries themselves. Where people have been unable to rely on the government and the authorities for help, it has been those in “the mosque, the church and the temple” they have been able to turn to.
“Faith is meaningless unless we translate it into a struggle for justice,” explained Mr Filochowski. He stressed that religious belief should yield concrete actions in empowering the poor – not just giving them handouts.
CAFOD has worked with Islamic Relief in countries such as Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, El Salvador and Goma. Each organisation was able to help the other, either through links with the community in the field, or through support with funding.
Global divides based on religious differences should be rejected – concluded Mr Filochowski – with a shared commitment to social justice, faith networks have the potential to act as “key protagonists for change” in today’s society.