Thursday, May 04, 2006

Finished Reading God Is Love (Post II)

Some important distinctions regarding the Church's charitable works...

The command of love of neighbor is inscribed by the Creator in man's very nature. (pg. 44)

Christian charity is first of all the simple response to immediate needs and specific situations: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for and healing the sick, visiting those in prison, etc.

Individuals who care for those in need must first be professionally competent: they should be properly trained in what to do and how to do it, and committed to continuing care. Yet, while professional competence is a primary, fundamental requirement, it is not of itself sufficient...Those who work for the Church's charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of their humanity. Consequently...these charity workers need a "formation of the heart"; they need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others. As a result, love of neighbor will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love (cf. Gal. 5:6). (pg. 45)

Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and it is not at the service of worldly strategems, but it is a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs. (pg. 46)

Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practiced as a way of achieving other ends...Those who practice charity in the Church's name will never seek to impose the Church's faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love...It is the responsibility of the Church's charitable organizations to reinforce this awareness in their members, so that by their activity - as well as their words, their silence, their example - they may be credible witnesses to Christ. (pg. 47)

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