Pope reflects on the importance of giving

 Yesterday, IN the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of the 2008 Lenten Message of the Holy Father Benedict XVI. The theme of this year's Message is: "Christ made Himself poor for you". Participating in the press conference were Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes and Msgrs. Karel Kasteel and Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, respectively president, secretary and under-secretary of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", and Hans-Peter Rothlin, president of the Catholic association Aid to the Church in Need. Cardinal Cordes affirmed that in his Message this year the Pope "presents certain reflections on alms and fundraising". He also noted that, alongside Christmas, "the period leading up to Easter is also traditionally dedicated in many countries to special fundraising campaigns". He went on: "Despite the fact that the struggle against hunger has seen some successes from a financial point of view", it must be highlighted that "the structural costs of assistance organisations are sometime surprisingly high" and "at times can reach slightly less than 50 percent of their revenue". In the 2008 Message, he said, the Holy Father "wishes to highlight, on the basis of the faith, the implications giving has for the spirit of the donor". Using the words and stories of the Gospel, the Pope "places the gift of the donor in the light of revelation". "In the first place", said Cardinal Cordes, "the Pope shows - above all to practising Christians - the indissoluble bond between piety and caring for the needy". The Holy Father also "speaks of the intentions of the donor. At a time in which such great honour is paid to benefactors it is certainly appropriate to call attention to the spirit of a benefactor's gesture, which is not to look to the glorification of self but to the glorification of the Father Who is in heaven. The love of God is at the root of all good actions accomplished by man". The president of "Cor Unum" noted how the Holy Father comments on the evangelical episode of the widow who gave everything she had to live on. In this context he affirmed that "the value of our gifts is measured not on the basis of the amount stamped on the coins. Before God it is only the hand of the donor that determines the importance of a gift. Its value depends on the ... thoughts and intentions that have caused the person to give". Subsequently, Hans-Peter Rothlin spoke about Fr Werenfried van Straaten, founder of the association Aid to the Church in Need, recalling that it is "not an order or an ecclesial community, but a 'Work' that has the aim of helping the Church wherever she is not capable of carrying out her mission without external assistance". In the "Spiritual Guidelines" written by Fr.van Straaten in 2002 shortly before his death, the founder "does not use the word 'alms' but speaks of offerings" and indicates that "the majority of his 'benefactors' were and remain simple people who do not possess great wealth, but are, rather, like the widow of the Gospel who makes her offering in secret ... then goes on her way". The text of the "Spiritual Guidelines" also make it clear, said Mr Rothlin, that those who distribute the offerings "must never forget that 'they are not just administrating money, but above all the charity of our benefactors'. Here we find come to the central point of the Holy Father's Message, which could be entitled: 'The secret of almsgiving is charity'", he said. The association founded by Fr van Straaten collects funds in 17 nations and has some 600,000 benefactors, and it is, Mr Rothlin concluded, "a meeting place for the world Church where the children of God, from all places, come together in supernatural love and enrich one another. For donors it is a grace to know they are united with those whom Jesus called 'blessed' because of their poverty and suffering, ... while recipients experience the joy of being united to those who, for their mercy, are also called 'blessed'". Source: VIS

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