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Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Charities welcome Pope's first encyclical
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¬†Charities have welcomed Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical, 'Deus Caritas est' . In the document the Holy Father focuses on love and charity, and also writes specifically about the important role played by Catholic aid agencies. CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: "Pope Benedict offers great encouragement in his letter by reaffirming the way we work and embedding our approach in Catholic Social Teaching. "Pope Benedict stresses that love lies at the core of all we do. He reminds us that God's love for us is unconditional and our love of God must be expressed in acts of Christian justice and charity. This is more profound than simple generosity, important though this is. It is a love that sees the face of Christ on every person, especially those most in need. "The Holy Father writes about the importance of charity, and challenges the Catholic laity to work for a more just world. CAFOD's work is about putting faith into action, so we are inspired by the Pope's words. At the centre of our relief, development and campaigning work is this concept of love." "Pope Benedict helps us see that the very reason that we have a capacity and desire to love God and our neighbour is because God 'loved us first'." The Pope writes: "Love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being." The Pope says that it is the role of the State to bring about a just society and the Church should not be fighting political battles or replacing the State. "Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. The promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply. The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful." The encyclical stresses the need of Catholic agencies to be professional and competent. The Pope writes: "While professional competence is a primary, fundamental requirement, it is not of itself sufficient. We are dealing with human beings, and human beings always need something more than technically proper care. They need humanity. They need heartfelt concern." Pope Benedict addresses the challenges of globalisation acknowledging that love of our neighbour "transcends the confines of national communities" and our response needs the guidance of Catholic Social Teaching. The encyclical urges Church agencies to engage with the world around them and to dialogue and work with a wide range of secular and ecumenical agencies to be a witness to Christian love." The encyclical offers very important guidance on not using charity to proselytise. "Love is free; it is not practised as a way of achieving other ends," Pope Benedict writes. Commodore Chris York, National Director of AOS (GB), said: "We are delighted that the Pope's first encyclical has focused on the theme of love and charity, and the importance of responding to God's love for us by loving our neighbour." Commodore York said: "The Apostleship of the Sea is a fine example of the Church's charitable outreach in practice. Our chaplains and ship visitors take the love of Christ to seafarers ≠ regardless of their creed or nationality ≠ on a daily basis. Each year they provide practical and pastoral assistance to hundreds of thousands of visiting seafarers, who themselves help to bring us 95% of the goods we use and consume every day." "By loving seafarers, and acknowledging them as our brothers and sisters in need, AOS is responding to God's love for us and fulfilling Christ's command to love our neighbour. In the Pope's words, we 'experience love and in this way cause the light of God to enter into the world' ."
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