Philanthropy Isn’t Enough, Insists Pope

Urges Pastors to Be Concerned With Formation

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 29, 2008 ( Workers in Catholic charitable organizations must reflect evangelical love, not mere philanthropy, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today when he received in audience participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, who are meeting to reflect on the theme: “Human and Spiritual Qualities of People Who Work in Catholic Charity Institutions.”

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum coordinates and promotes the world’s Catholic institutions of assistance and volunteering.

The Holy Father told them, “Charitable activity occupies a central position in the Church’s evangelizing mission. We must not forget that works of charity are an important area in which to meet people who do not yet know Christ, or who know him only partially. It is right, then, that pastors and those responsible for pastoral charity work […] should concern themselves with the human, professional and theological-spiritual formation” of people who operate in this field.

“Those who work in the many forms of charitable activity of the Church cannot, then, content themselves just with offering technical services or resolving practical problems and difficulties,” he continued. “The assistance they provide must never be reduced to mere philanthropy but must be a tangible expression of evangelical love.”

Charity workers, the Pontiff explained, must be, “above all, witnesses of evangelical love.” They achieve this “if the ultimate aim of their mission is not that of being social service operatives, but of announcing the Gospel of charity.”

“Following Christ’s footsteps,” he added, “they are called to be witnesses of the value of life in all its expressions, especially defending the life of the weak and the sick, following the example of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta who loved and looked after the dying, because life is not measured in terms of efficiency, but has value always and for everyone.”

Ecclesial charity workers, Benedict XVI added, are also “called to be witnesses of love, of the fact that we fully become men and women when we live for others, that no one must die and live for themselves alone.” And, he concluded, charity workers “must be witnesses of God, who is fullness of love and invites us to love.”

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