VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A retreat for the Americas is aiming to remind diocesan aid workers that Christian charity is not the same as mere humanitarian work.
The Pontifical Council Cor Unum is sponsoring its first spiritual retreat for leaders of diocesan charity organizations. It will be held June 1-6 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and preached by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Pontifical Household.
Cardinal Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, spoke to ZENIT about plans for the retreat. The cardinal recalled that Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est,” emphasized the need for charity work to demonstrate the love of God.
“Jesus Christ always went about doing good in relation with a proclamation of the word,” the cardinal said. This is what differentiates Christians: “We have the Red Cross, we have institutions of the United Nations … And all this is very good. But we want to have a different attitude.”
He clarified that Church charities also seek material and even political means to end world suffering. But, he said, “what is specifically Christian consists in going beyond human misery. Frequently, even material help is no longer help, particularly when people go through difficulties in which it is impossible to help them with bread, with a roof, or with medicine. We can then give hope, speaking about the faith, praying with a dying person and consoling them by speaking of the good that God has prepared for us in eternal life.”
Cardinal Cordes said this retreat in the Americas will be followed by similar initiatives on other continents. He said Guadalajara was chosen to be somewhat closer for retreatants coming from South America.
“In a pragmatic, frequently superficial, pressured and insensitive world,” the cardinal said, “we have to rediscover the roots of our qualities: a heart that listens and the strength of the Word of God.
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