VATICAN CITY, FEB, 20, 2002 ( In becoming man, Christ made man the way of the Church, the preacher at the annual papal retreat said in the presence of John Paul II and his Roman Curia aides.

On the fourth day of the Spiritual Exercises, the preacher, Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Sao Paolo, said the central event of man´s history is summarized in the phrase "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."

Christ stripped himself of his divine dignity to bear the sin of men and come close to them, who were so far from God, the Brazilian archbishop explained today.

Hence, in a certain sense, Jesus united himself to each man, and ever since then, man has become the way of the Church, the cardinal said.

In light of the above dimension, the preacher made an analysis of the international situation. He began by quoting an African cardinal: "The greats of today´s world are not interested in the African countries. They might still be interested in the mineral wealth under the soil, but not in what is on the soil, the African people."

"The Church must consistently give hope to all these people," Cardinal Hummes said. "She must do so urgently in a concrete and effective way."

"Certainly, the first and most important service that the Church can and must offer the concrete and historic man of today is evangelization," he emphasized. "This is always valid, provided it is as inculturated as possible, and situated in a concrete way.

"The proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection and his Kingdom, is the force in which we need to believe with vigor. This new evangelization should lead, necessarily, to the exercise of charity and solidarity toward the poor."

"This is the second, indispensable service that the Church must offer," Cardinal Hummes continued. "And she must stimulate the whole of humanity to do the same with the poor and needy of today´s world. Without this, our faith would remain empty and we would be unfaithful to Jesus Christ."

He proposed Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a model of evangelization and charity. The maiden of Nazareth first "listened to the Word of God, meditated on it in her heart, and lived it by constantly putting into practice her ´fiat´ -- be it done unto me," the cardinal added.

In the second place, Mary´s example of charity came to a climax "when she accepted, at the foot of the cross, to suffer with her Son," the preacher said. The retreat ends Saturday.