VATICAN CITY, JUNE 8, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Church’s work of charity, both for individuals and for organizations, must always find its reference point in Christ, “the source of charity,” Benedict XVI says.
The Pope said this today in an address to representatives of Caritas Internationalis, who are meeting in the Vatican this week for their general assembly.
The Holy Father said: “Charity has to be understood in the light of God who is caritas: God who loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. In this way we come to see that love finds its greatest fulfillment in the gift of self.
“This is what Caritas Internationalis seeks to accomplish in the world. The heart of Caritas is the sacrificial love of Christ, and every form of individual and organized charity in the Church must always find its point of reference in him, the source of charity.”
Faith and society
Benedict XVI said this theological vision is translated into practical implications for the work of charitable organizations.
He highlighted two of them: “The first is that every act of charity should be inspired by a personal experience of faith, leading to the discovery that God is Love.”
“Christian charity exceeds our natural capacity for love: It is a theological virtue.
“It therefore challenges the giver to situate humanitarian assistance in the context of a personal witness of faith, which then becomes a part of the gift offered to the poor. Only when charitable activity takes the form of Christ-like self-giving does it become a gesture truly worthy of the human person created in God’s image and likeness.”
The Pope also drew attention to a second implication: “God’s love is offered to everyone, hence the Church’s charity is also universal in scope, and so it has to include a commitment to social justice.”
However, he clarified, “changing unjust structures is not of itself sufficient to guarantee the happiness of the human person.”
“Moreover, […] the task of politics ‘is not the immediate competence of the Church,'” the Holy Father said. “Rather, her mission is to promote the integral development of the human person.
“For this reason, the great challenges facing the world at the present time, such as globalization, human rights abuses, unjust social structures, cannot be confronted and overcome unless attention is focused on the deepest needs of the human person: the promotion of human dignity, well-being and, in the final analysis, eternal salvation.”