[Catholics tend to see Catholic Social Teaching as an optional extra. These quotes from a recent audience with the Pope are useful reminders about the key place charity has in our Faith]
Today I would like to pause to reflect briefly with you on three key words: charity, integral development and communion.
- Charity has its origin and its essence in God Himself (see Jn 4: 8); charity is the embrace of God our Father to every man, especially to the least and the suffering, who occupy a preferential place in His heart
- The Church…. is in Christ, the sign and instrument of God’s love for humanity and for all of creation, our common home.
- The poor are first and foremost persons, and their faces conceal that of Christ Himself. They are His flesh, signs of His crucified body, and we have the duty to reach out to them
- The service of charity must, therefore, choose the logic of integral development as an antidote to the culture of waste and indifference.
- It is communion in Christ and in the Church that animates, accompanies and supports the service of charity both in the communities themselves and in emergency situations throughout the world.
Taking up these three fundamental aspects of living in Caritas, I would like to urge you to live them with a style of poverty, gratuitousness and humility….You cannot live charity without having interpersonal relationships with the poor: living with the poor and for the poor…We must always be careful not to fall into the temptation of living a hypocritical or deceitful charity, a charity identified with almsgiving, or as a “tranquilliser” for our uneasy consciences….Charity is not an idea or a pious feeling, but is an experiential encounter with Christ; it is the desire to live with the heart of God Who does not ask us to have a generic love, affection, solidarity, etc. for the poor, but to meet Himself in them (see Mt 25: 31-46), in the style of poverty.
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