23 May 2011

Cardinal Bertone Reminds Caritas International of It's Christian Mission

Cardinal Bertone spoke to the General Assembly of Caritas International on Sunday and reminded them that their mission is not to be just another humanitarian agency among many but must assert its Christian identity.
The full mission of Caritas Internationalis is thus carried out in the Church. This agency, along with all the national diocesan and parish offices, offers the faithful a privileged opportunity to participate in the Church’s mission and to draw near to Jesus Christ. “For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being”. This ecclesial charity has a twofold expression one within the community, another reaching out to all. First, within the Church herself, as a family,“no one ought to go without the necessities of life … no member should suffer through being in need; at the same time, caritas-agape surpasses the “confines” of the ecclesial community and following the example of the Good Samaritan, shoulders the needs of our brothers and sisters whosoever they may be.

The Church’s charitable activity, like that of Christ, could never be limited to assisting people’s material needs, however urgent and immediate those needs might be. A humanitarian assistance which would habitually prescind from its Christian identity, adapting a “neutral” approach seeking to please everyone, would risk, even in cases where it obtained its immediate goals, failing to offer men and women a fine service consonant with their full dignity. Thus, even without wishing to do so, theywould eventually foster in those whom they assist a materialistic mentality which the latter would then bring to other relationships and to their approach to social issues. In a word: the Church must not only practice charity, but practice it as Christ did.

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