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Charity is not social work….. May 24, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, scandals, Society.

……or government wealth transfers, I might add!  We may be in the midst of the revival of the enforcement of at least some modicum of discipline in the Church.  In the past several months, there have been three wayward bishops sacked, priests have been disciplined, and now Caritas International, the prime Catholic international relief agency (of which Catholic Charities is a part) has been lectured rather sternly by Cardinal Bertone regarding the need for a vibrant Catholic identity in all Catholic charitable work.  This lecture occurred after Caritas had their preferred speaker for their international conference pulled by the Vatican.  Then, Robert Cardinal Sarah, addressing Caritas Europa officials at the Vatican, reminded them that Christian charity is not ordinary social work:

The cardinal drove home the point by quoting with what he described as a “striking” statement from Blessed Frederic Ozanam, a 19th century founder of the Society of Saint Vincent De Paul.

Our fundamental purpose is not to go out and help the poor,” said Ozanam, whose organization is well-known for its service to the needy. “For us, this has only been a means. Our purpose is to maintain the Catholic faith within us, and to allow its diffusion to others through the instrument of charity.”

Cardinal Sarah, who heads the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, told Caritas Europa directors and vice-directors that the international Catholic charity had reached a “key moment” in its history, 60 years after it was established by Pius XII.

That Pope “wished to give a concrete and practical sign of the Church’s concern for the countless situations crying out for assistance” after World War II. He organized Caritas Internationalis as a Church ministry, to “make present, through specific works of charity, the charity of God himself.”

Recently, however, Vatican officials have found the need to strengthen Caritas’ Catholic identity and increase its focus on evangelization.

Disagreement over the new direction led the Vatican to seek a replacement for Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight earlier this year. The Holy See appreciated many of Knight’s accomplishments, but sought a “new profile” after she criticized its vision for Caritas in the press.

In his address, Cardinal Sarah described Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical “Deus Caritas Est,” on the subject of Christian love, as “the magna carta for our direction” in the coming years.

The cardinal’s speech quoted extensively from the letter’s reflections on what charity is, and is not, for Catholics.

“For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others,” the Pope wrote in a passage highlighted by Cardinal Sarah. In fact, charity is “inseparable” from the Church’s other two fundamental tasks: “to proclaim the word of God” and “celebrate the sacraments.”……..

Cardinal Sarah explained that Caritas Europa should align its priorities with those of Pope Benedict, and see its activity as “the ‘visiting card’ that can open the door to Christ.”

“Charity is a divine gift,” he observed, “bestowed by the God who is love.”

The cardinal stated that the one who bears witness to this love “becomes an apostle.” Through the work of such apostles, “a seed of belief is sown even in the most skeptical.”

There was apparently much concern at the Vatican when it was revealed that Catholic Relief Services in Africa, as a matter of policy, absolutely refuse to evangelize in any way.   There has been great concern among many Catholics, and at the Vatican, that many Catholic charitable organizations have lost their way, that they have become too dependent on government funding, too infused with socialist views, and too distant from Catholic Doctrine.  The Vatican appears to be making clear that all Catholic organizations must have a vibrant Catholic identity, and that the first work of charity is to bring the Gospel to those living without it.

I pray over this constantly.  I pray that our Catholic organizations, every one, will have a deep Catholic identity and a burning desire to proclaim the Truth Christ has revealed through His Church, in the best spirit of the great Saints and Tradition of the Church.  I also pray that Catholic social work will become more locally focused and more of a private enterprise, less dependent on government funding.  It is frankly bizaare to me that Catholic Charities would be so dependent on government funding that its leadership would lose their minds when that funding is reduced.  There are, of course, many aspects of charity, including the most important, spiritual charity, but historically Catholic physical charity, material aid to our fellow man, has been locally based and privately funded.  It is only in the last few decades that massive Catholic charitable enterprises have sprung into being, largely funded by government.  It is in these massive organizations that a socialist mindset has largely taken hold, and adherence to the Faith is often lacking.  That is why I pray for change.  I pray that the Faith will always be the first and foremost concern of every Catholic enterprise.


1. Mary - May 24, 2011

Praise God for this!
With all the ‘social justice’ activities in our Catholic Churches, confusion has been created – between true charity and social justice (which seems to be give $$money to an organization and let someone else be ‘charitable’.
I believe grace from charity is lost when ‘hiring a middle-man’. In addition, we lose touch with the poor in our midst.

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