Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his address to the 18th general assembly of Caritas Internationalis that brought together representatives of 150 national branches, Benedict XVI said that the essence of the organisation’s action within the broader goal of social justice is to express Christ’s love. For this reason, humanitarian aid must be given to all but also go hand in hand with bearing witness to one’s faith in order to promote human dignity.
First, Benedict XVI noted that Caritas’ work is “truly a part of the Church, [. . .] called, by means of the charitable activity that you undertake, to assist in the Church’s mission to spread throughout the world the love of God.”
For the Pope, Christ’s self-giving love is at the heart of Caritas and every charitable activity, whether individual or organised, must find in Him its point of reference and source of charity. It thus becomes necessary “to situate humanitarian assistance in the context of a personal witness of faith, which then becomes a part of the gift offered to the poor.”
From this theological vision, the Caritas worker is called to bear witness to that love before the world. Christian charity exceeds our natural capacity for love: it is a theological virtue, as Saint Paul teaches us in his famous hymn to charity (cf 1 Cor 13).
The second implication follows closely from the first since “God’s love is offered to everyone.” Indeed, “the Church’s charity is [. . .] universal in scope” and includes “a commitment to social justice” even though “changing unjust structures is not in and of itself sufficient to guarantee the happiness of the human person.”
As the Pope said in his recent trip to Brazil, politics “is not the immediate competence of the Church.” Instead, the Church’s “mission is to promote the integral development of the human person.”
For this reason, “the great challenges facing the world at the present time,” from globalisation to social injustice, “cannot be confronted and overcome unless attention is focused on the deepest needs of the human person: the promotion of human dignity, well-being and, in the final analysis, eternal salvation.”