2012-12-01 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) The service of charity, Pope Benedict said today, is at the heart of the Church’s identity and mission.
In a new Apostolic Letter – issued “motu proprio,” that is, on his own initiative – the Holy Father spoke about the work of charity in and by the Church, and issued new regulations to better organise the Church’s charitable activity. “With the present Motu proprio, I intend to provide an organic legislative framework for the better overall ordering of the various organised ecclesial forms of the service of charity, which are closely related to the diaconal [ministerial] nature of the Church and the Episcopal ministry.
The Church’s concern for those in need is expressed in many different charitable initiatives around the world. These works, the Pope said, should always be welcomed by the Church’s Pastors, “as a sign of the sharing of all the faithful in the mission of the Church.” The diversity of those initiatives is a “manifestation of the freedom of the baptised,” who use their own unique gifts to respond to call of charity.
But, he said, insofar as those charitable works are promoted and supported by the Church, they must conform to the teachings of the Church and the intentions of the faithful, and must respect legitimate civil regulation. It is the responsibility of the Bishops, in the first place, to ensure that they do so.
Above all, Pope Benedict said, it is important to remember that practical actions are never enough; charity must express a genuine love for people, a love animated by a personal encounter with Christ. “In carrying out their charitable works, therefore, the Catholic organisations should not limit themselves merely to collecting and distributing funds, but should show special concern for individuals in need and exercise a valuable educational function within the Christian community, helping people to appreciate the importance of sharing, respect and love in the spirit of the Gospel of Christ.”
Christopher Wells reports: