Church Must Call Things by Name, Says Vatican Official

Cor Unum President Presents Pope’s Lent Message

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2012 ( The Church’s opposition to «certain fashionable ideas» springs from her concern for mankind and the world, and her duty to call things by name, says the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

Cardinal Robert Sarah said this today as he presented Benedict XVI’s message for Lent 2012.

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum is the organization that oversees the Church’s charitable activities and it is charged with presenting the Pope’s annual Lenten message. This year’s message recalls that Christians must look out not only for the material needs of others, but also for their spiritual good. It focuses on the biblical concept of fraternal correction. 

«We know that the Lenten Message contributes to maintaining the faithful’s sense of concern for others, communion, compassion and fraternal sharing in the sufferings of those in need,» said Cardinal Sarah. «However, over and above this important issue, there is another aspect of Christian life which this year’s text highlights: fraternal correction.

«Charity teaches us that we are responsible not only for the material well-being of others, but also for their moral and spiritual good.»

The cardinal called for giving due attention to «a certain ideology that exalts the rights of the individual,» which «can have the consequence of creating isolation and solitude. … When the call to communion is denied in the name of individualism it is our humanity that suffers, deceived by the impossible mirage of a happiness obtainable by one self. Therefore we can help one another by discovering our reciprocal responsibility the one for the other.»

Roots of evil

Cardinal Sarah recommended seeing the Church’s activity in the world in light of «fraternal correction in truth and charity.»

«Sometimes,» he said, «it is thought that the Church’s concerns and her tenacious resistance to certain fashionable ideas are moved by thirst or nostalgia for power. This is not the case. The Church is moved by a sincere concern for mankind and for the world. Her activities are not moved by a desire to condemn or recriminate, but by a justice and mercy that must also have the courage to call things by their name. Only in this way can we expose the roots of evil, which continue to intrigue the mind of modern man.»

«Clearly the call for greater social justice is part of the mission of the Church,» he continued, which «cannot remain silent in the face of the fact that too many people die because they lack basic necessities while others grow rich exploiting their fellows. Yet the prophetic dimension of our words and deeds cannot be limited to these external phenomena without going to the moral roots of these injustices.»

Cardinal Sarah mentioned, for example, corruption and unduly living at the expense of others without contributing.

«Nor can we remain silent,» he said, «… about the fact that the roots of the current financial crisis lie in greed, unrestrained and unscrupulous thirst for money without considering those who have less and who must bear the consequences of the mistaken choices of others. Such attachment to money is a sin, and the Church is prophetic in her condemnation of that sin, which harms both individuals and society.»

«Today’s message,» the cardinal concluded, «aims to awaken people’s consciences with respect to the rights and duties of our neighbor, but also with respect to our duties toward the ‘rights’ of God. All this comes about in the context of Christian communion ruled by the principle of reciprocity and fraternal correction, with a view to the temporal good of mankind and his eschatological salvation.»

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