Welcome to the Official page of the Presidency of the Portuguese Republic

Note on navigating with support technologies

On this page you will find two navigation aids: a search engine (shortcut key 1) | Skip to content (shortcut key 2)
10º aniversário da Associação Nacional de Doenças Mentais e Raras – Raríssimas
10º aniversário da Associação Nacional de Doenças Mentais e Raras – Raríssimas
Lisboa, 28 de Setembro de 2012 see more: 10º aniversário da Associação Nacional de Doenças Mentais e Raras – Raríssimas


Mrs Maria Cavaco Silva Speeches


Click here to reduce font size| Click here to increase font size
Speech addressed by Mrs. Cavaco Silva at the Opening Ceremony of the Portuguese Caritas National Conference, on the theme “Combating Poverty and Exclusion through Paths of Social Innovation”
Setúbal, 24 February 2010

Reverend Bishop D. Gilberto Reis
Civil Governor
Madam Mayor
Dr. Eugénio da Fonseca
Members of the Chair

We are meeting here today to inaugurate the National Conference of Portuguese Caritas.

We are all well acquainted with Caritas and, since a part of our country has been ravaged by a catastrophe which so greatly pains our souls – the body seems able to heal much easier – this name, which has for many years kept us company in bad times as a reference of help and solidarity, comes immediately to mind.

This Conference is dedicated to the theme Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, focusing mainly on social innovation.

The last Route my husband carried out in the areas of Entre Douro and Vouga, and Interior Beira, in which I took part, as usual, was precisely focused on the Local Innovatory Communities.

I was able to see that people are acting locally at economic, social, entrepreneurial and environmental levels. They are not expecting others to perform in their stead what they believe to be their duty.

They are providing us with an excellent example on how it is possible to fight against interiority, against the crisis, against dismay.

I would go so far as to say that this Conference has good starting points for its work in the objectives stated in the website of the Presidency, since the topics approached in this conference and in that Route could not come any nearer.

We have lately often made reference to the crisis and, since misfortune never arises on its own, on this week end Madeira, our beautiful island famous throughout the world, our Pearl of the Atlantic, suffered a natural disaster of unimaginable proportions.

In these tragic times we are more than ever in need of each other.

We enjoy being happy together but I believe that, since families become more united in times of pain, the people also feel a greater need of unity when catastrophe hits.

To cry over their deceased of course, but also to become organized and to face, together, the reconstruction work which is necessary in all scenarios of destruction and death.

We were recently faced, globally, with the tragedy in Haiti.

When I attended Mass for the intention of the victims, Prof. Eugénio da Fonseca had the chance to tell me – Caritas has the capacity to help more quickly because it is on the spot.

And this is what Caritas has made us familiar with – being on the spot.
I know that it is also on the spot in Madeira, because I had the occasion to visit it when I was there last.

It is comforting to know that, in this time of tragedy, Caritas, as always, is on the spot.

It is comforting for us to know, with our soul still in tears, that the Army, the Firemen, the Civil Protection, the Police, are all there, performing the possible and the impossible.

It is good to know that the people have not lowered their arms.

Trying to swallow their tears, they went immediately into action, to put in practice the motto of all disasters: bury the dead and care for the living.

There are always lessons to be learnt from all disasters. That we learn, humbly, how to perform better, how to correct what is wrong.

It is the time to get to work and not to allow the anguish of the much there is to be done to lead us into dismay.

It is also at the time of grievous difficulties that innovation, the key topic of this Conference, always gains acceleration.

Need sharpens the wit – goes the popular saying. Difficulties do so as well.

I have no doubt that this Conference, which God willed should take place at a time of national mourning, will be able, through dialogue and a rich exchange of experiences, to once again open the way to Hope.

I wish you all the best of work, for the good of all of us.

Maria Cavaco Silva

© 2006-2016 Presidency of the Portuguese Republic