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Solidarity requires individual involvement, not state programs, Pope says

May 21, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI defined solidarity as "a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone," during a May 19 audience with members of Catholic charitable groups.

Because everyone is obligated by the demands of solidarity, the Holy Father said, "it cannot therefore be merely delegated to the state." He stressed the need for individual involvement with those in need.

"Your activity must be animated by charity," the Pope said. "This means learning to see with the eyes of Christ and giving others much more than what is externally necessary." That "much more," the Pope explained, is the gift of love, which bureaucratic programs cannot provide.

Christian solidarity, the Pope said, relies on "gratuitousness"--the willingness to give even when there is no obligation to do so. "Gratuitousness cannot be bought on the market, or established by law," he said. Yet "today it is clear that without gratuitousness, there can be no justice in the first place."

Pope Benedict said that the best example of gratuitous love can be seen in healthy family life, in which each individual willingly gives of himself for the benefit of others. He reminded his audience that in the encyclical Caritas in Veritate he had suggested applying the logic of family life to society at large.


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  • Posted by: koinonia - May. 21, 2012 6:10 PM ET USA

    This pope has done more than perhaps any in decades in effectively clarifying much that has been misunderstood about Catholic doctrine, Catholic thought and Catholic liturgical practice. He has not shown much reluctance to put his popularity on the line in using uncomfortably specific language nor in promoting objective Truth. His is a testament to the gift of Pentecost and to the graces of the office he holds.