VATICAN CITY, JUNE 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace opened the plenary session of Caritas Internationalis, telling them there is no justice without charity and no charity without truth.
Cardinal Renato Martino opened the six-day session on Monday in the Vatican. The representatives of some 160 Catholic charity organizations are gathered to discuss the theme of “Witnesses of Charity, Builders of Peace.”
Cardinal Martino told them: “Justice is not charity, and in fact there is no state organization that could render the service of love superfluous.”
Justice “needs charity, for otherwise it will not be able to purify itself from being overtaken by the interests and powers that bedazzle it,” he added.
The 74-year-old cardinal continued: “Material reality cannot truly be understood without transcendence […]; reason, precisely to be reason, needs to be purified by faith; in the same way justice needs to be purified by charity.
“The failure of all the systems that put God in parentheses bears witness to this. Reality needs God to be truly itself; political systems need religion to be fully themselves; rational and critical analysis needs the perspective of faith to encounter history.”
Cardinal Martino recalled that Benedict XVI’s new book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” gives a principle regarding the preferential option for the poor and the political struggle for justice.
The Pope writes that “purely material poverty does not save, even if material disadvantages can in a special way count on divine goodness. The heart of persons who have nothing can be hardened, poisoned, and malicious — internally full of the greed for possession, forgetful of God and desirous only of material goods.”
For this reason, Cardinal Martino recalled, “the Sermon on the Mount is not a social program.”
“The true way to serve the poor is not to take our point of departure from poverty in a sociological sense but from the poor Christ,” the cardinal said.
He added: “Because of this, at Aparecida, the Pope proposed we take as our point of departure the Christ of the apostolic faith passed on to us by the Church.
“He encouraged the faithful of Latin America to revive their faith in Christ, our sole master and savior, who revealed to us the singular experience of the infinite love of God the Father of men.”
Cardinal Martino stated: “Christ shows to us the face of God, a face of charity and truth, inextricably united.
“We cannot bear witness to charity without truth; the proclamation of truth is also a demanding form of charity and every act of charity, disinterested and farsighted, is likewise a witness to truth.”