Caritas Internationalis is a church body, not philanthropic, says Pope
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI today received the General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis in audience, underlining that " Caritas Internationalis differs from other social agencies in that it is ecclesial; it shares in the mission of the Church. This is what the Popes have always wanted and this is what your General Assembly is called forcefully to re-affirm". The Pope said that consequently the organization, composed of 165 national Caritas, has a particular task. " Being in the heart of the Church, being able in a certain way to speak and act in her name for the common good, entails particular responsibilities in terms of the Christian life, both personal and in community. Only on the basis of a daily commitment to accept and to live fully the love of God can one promote the dignity of each and every human being. "
In past years there have been controversies related to Caritas’ cooperation with international agencies that do not share the Church's beliefs on human life, especially abortion. Benedict XVI today said that " all Catholics, and indeed all men and women, are called to act with purified consciences and generous hearts in resolutely promoting those values which I have often referred to as “non-negotiable".
Benedict XVI clearly stressed the difference between philanthropy and Christian charity. " For us Christians, God himself is the source of charity; and charity is understood not merely as generic benevolence but as self-giving, even to the sacrifice of one’s life for others in imitation of the example of Jesus Christ". The teaching of the Church must be the reference point of the Caritas: " The experience you have garnered in these years has taught you to be advocates within the international community of a sound anthropological vision, one nourished by Catholic teaching and committed to defending the dignity of all human life. Without a transcendent foundation, without a reference to God the Creator, without an appreciation of our eternal destiny, we risk falling prey to harmful ideologies. All that you say and do, the witness of your lives and activities, remains important and contributes to the advancement of the integral good of the human person".
Caritas, in its different national and international expression must be united with the Church: "This implies a special responsibility of the Church: to be led by pastors of the Church. Since Caritas Internationalis has a universal profile and is canonically a public juridical person, the Holy See is also responsible for following its activity and exercising oversight to ensure that its humanitarian and charitable activity, and the content of its documents, are completely in accord with the Apostolic See and the Church’s Magisterium, and that it is administered in a competent and transparent manner. This distinctive identity remains the strength of Caritas Internationalis, and is what makes it uniquely effective".The meeting confirmed Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras as president, and appointed Frenchman Michel Roy former advocacy officer of Secours catholique Secretary-General.