Catholic World News

Cardinal tells Caritas: Christian charity goes beyond mere philanthropy

May 24, 2011

The president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum said that Caritas Internationalis must be an expression of the charitable mission of the Church, and not an organization that exists alongside the Church.

New juridical norms under discussion, Cardinal Robert Sarah told the Caritas general assembly, will ensure that the consortium of bishops’ relief and development agencies will “remain essentially and structurally an instrument of the charity of the Church.”

“I believe it is important to understand that our charitable organizations are located within the Church and not alongside her,” said the Guinea-born cardinal. “A Caritas that wasn’t an ecclesial expression would have no meaning or existence. The Church cannot be considered as a partner of Catholic organizations. They are the organizations that take part in her mission.”

“Regarding coordination with the charitable organizations of the Church, it should be emphasized that our activity is guided by the principle of the integral development of the human person,” Cardinal Sarah added. “Therefore, it is not merely philanthropic and humanitarian assistance aimed at relieving a certain kind of distress, but also and above all it entails giving back to human persons all their dignity as children of God, and promoting an anthropology that also encompasses the religious dimension of human persons, namely their encounter with God.”

“You must bring Jesus Christ to others in a natural and simple way, as perfume brings a good smell, salt gives a pleasant and delicious taste, and fire radiates heat, light and flames, by living exactly as you do in the world, devoted to your professional work, and in the bosom of your family if you are married, taking part in all the noble aspirations of mankind, and respecting everyone’s legitimate freedom, so that ‘if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior and faith of the disciples of Jesus’” (cf. 1 Pet 3:1-2), he added.

“Today, dear friends, the tragedy of modern mankind is not lacking clothing and housing,” Cardinal Sarah continued. “The most tragic hunger and the most terrible anguish is not lack of food. It’s much more about the absence of God and the lack of true love, the love that was revealed to us on the Cross.”


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  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 31, 2011 9:14 AM ET USA

    Cardinal Sarah's homily on the occasion of the ordinations at the Community of St. Martin's was very profound and very well-articulated. His words resound with the certitude of Gospel truth proclaimed for centuries by Holy Mother Church. May God bless those prelates determined in their efforts to restore order in the Church and to exhort clerics in the imitation of Christ in all things. May Christ's mystical love resuscitate our beleaguered clergy.

  • Posted by: rpp - May. 24, 2011 7:12 PM ET USA

    Sound teaching. Well said! Thank you, Cardinal Sarah.