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Aid to the poor reveals the truth about human dignity, Pope says at Roman shelter

Catholic World News - February 15, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the importance of service to the poor during a Sunday-morning visit to a shelter in Rome on February 14.

Visiting a shelter run by a the Caritas relief agency at Rome's central railroad hub, the Holy Father addressed himself directly to the residents, assuring them that "the Church loves you deeply and will not abandon you, because it recognizes the countenance of Christ in each of you." He added that true charity involves not only providing for the material needs of the poor, but also helping each one "to know who he is-- the truth about himself and his dignity."

Service to the poor, the Pope continued, is an important aspect of the Church's mission "to the universal announcement of the truth about man, who is loved by God and created in his image, redeemed by Christ and called to eternal communion with Him." Christian charity helps those in need to maintain their dignity, or to recover from humiliation, he added.

The Pope encouraged all Christians-- but especially young people-- to find ways to assist in charitable works. Such volunteer work, he said, provides a school for learning about "a civilization of love." He said that in today's consumer society it is especially important to be mindful of "the element of gift" in life. Pope Benedict delivered a similar message later on Sunday, as he held his regular Angelus audience for the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Reflecting on the day's reading from the Sermon on the Mount, the Pontiff said that "the Beatitudes are rooted in the fact that divine justice exists, exalting those who have been wrongly humiliated and humbling those who have exalted themselves." He referred back to his morning visit at the homeless shelter, and praised the volunteers working there and in similar facilities all over the world. "Wherever the poor are consoled and admitted to the banquet of life, there the just of God is already manifest," the Pope said.

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