Orientation Assembly: meet our keynote speaker

One of the highlights of the Orientation Assembly, which will be held from June 16 to 19, 2022, in Halifax, N.S., will be the keynote address by His Eminence Michael Cardinal Czerny, SJ, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Cardinal Czerny has had a distinguished career as an institution builder, educator, peacemaker and advocate for the poor and the dispossessed.

He was born in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) and moved to Canada with his family at the age of two. He attended Loyola High School in Montreal, Que.; was ordained a priest in 1973; and earned a doctorate in human sciences, social thought and theology from the University of Chicago in 1978.

In 1979, he founded the centre that is now the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice in Toronto, Ont., and directed it until 1989. From 1990 to 1991, he was director of the Central American University’s Institute for Human Rights in San Salvador, El Salvador. He helped mediate the United Nations-led negotiations that brought an end to the 12-year-long civil war in the country.

For a decade ending 2002, Cardinal Czerny was secretary of the Jesuits’ Secretariat for Social Justice in Rome. In 1995, he served on a UN inquiry commission sent to Haiti in the wake of a coup d’état.

From 2002 to 2010, the cardinal worked in Africa, founding and directing the African Jesuit AIDS Network, a collective of Jesuits responding to the HIV epidemic; teaching at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya; and collaborating with the Episcopal Conference of Kenya.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as an expert for the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. The next year, he was recalled to Rome as a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

In 2017, Pope Francis appointed him under-secretary responsible for migrants and refugees to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He participated in the 2018 Synod on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment and served as special secretary of the 2019 Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region.

Pope Francis created and proclaimed him as Cardinal in 2019 and appointed him prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in April 2022.

We are honoured that he will be joining us for this important moment in the life of Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada.

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