DEUS CARITAS EST
THE PRACTICE OF CHARITY BY THE CHURCH
AS A “ COMMUNITY OF LOVE ”
THE CHARITABLE ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH
AS A MANIFESTATION OF TRINITARIAN LOVE
« 19. “ If you see charity, you see the Trinity ”, wrote Saint Augustine.11 »
Indeed, when you read the encyclical Deus caritas est, “ you see the Trinity ” : God the Father (nos 9-11), God the Son (nos 12-15), revealed by the Old and the New Testament ; the second part, dedicated to God the Holy Spirit, lets Him be seen at work in the history of the Church. (nos 20-27)
« In the foregoing reflections, we have been able to look on the opened Side of Jesus, on Him “ whom they have pierced ” (cf. Jn 19.37, Zc 12.10), and we have recognised the plan of the Father who, moved by love (cf. Jn 3.16), sent His only-begotten Son into the world to redeem man. »
Let us not pass too quickly over these references if we truly want to « look on Him whom they have pierced », as St. John invites us to do with an extraordinary solemnity : « So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with Him. When they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs, but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out Blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness – his testimony is true, and He knows that he tells the truth – that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled : “ Not a bone of Him shall be broken. ” And again another Scripture says : “ They shall look on Him whom they have pierced. ” » (Jn 19.32-37)
Two thousand years later, we can in turn « look on Him whom they have pierced », as the Pope invites us to do, by contemplating the silhouette visible on the Holy Shroud : it shows intact legs. On the breast it is possible to distinguish the imprint of the Wound opened by the spearhead, oval in shape and slightly oblique. A massive flow of blood has formed a stain cut off by rounded indentations and by clear spots that do not represent a “ lack ” of imprint, but the marks left by the « water » that flowed from the pericardium.
« By dying on the Cross – as Saint John tells us – Jesus “ gave up His spirit ” (Jn 19.30), anticipating the gift of the Holy Spirit that He would make after His Resurrection (cf. Jn 20.22). This was to fulfil the promise of “ rivers of living water ” that would flow out of the hearts of believers, through the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Jn 7.38-39). The Spirit, in fact, is that interior power that harmonises their hearts with the Heart of Christ and moves them to love their brethren as Christ loved them, when He bent down to wash the feet of His disciples (cf. Jn 13.1-13), and above all when He gave His life for us (cf. Jn 13.1, 15.13). »
The entire fourth Gospel is marked by this expectation of the Holy Spirit, without whom Jesus cannot give His teaching its full power and fruitfulness. He was speaking to the deaf because the Spirit had not yet been given to them, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
After His resurrection, however, His physical breath, the breath of the mouth of the Incarnate Word, is the bearer of the promised Holy Spirit. Thus He gives to the Apostles the power that was His own and that He used during His mortal life, to forgive sins and to “ retain ” them.
« The Spirit is also the energy that transforms the heart of the ecclesial community, so that it becomes a witness before the world to the love of the Father, who wishes to make humanity a single family in His Son. »
It is therefore not a question of opposing the Spirit to the Church, of which He is the divine soul, since it is He who has created, preserved and extended her influence in all times and in all places, and who for this reason has organised, structured hierarchically, strengthened, and sanctified her without measure, making of her the communion of saints, outside of which there is no salvation. (The 150 Points of the Phalange, no 24, “ The Gift of the Holy Spirit ”).
« The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love that seeks the integral good of man. »
Fr. de Nantes often contested this expression, inherited from John Paul II, but going back to Paul VI, “ expert in humanity ”. He claimed to be exercising a global magistracy, infallibly fixing new rights and duties for persons and States, determining the entire ideal and programme for a universal social reform “ for the integral development of the whole man and of all men ”. In this claim, developed by the encyclical on the progress of peoples (Populorum progressio, Easter 1967), Fr. de Nantes detected the venom of the errors condemned by Saint Pius X in the of 25 August 1910 (Letter to My Friends no 245, April 1967).
Here, however, Benedict XVI specifies what he means by « the integral good of man » that the Church seeks, and it is not the same thing :
« It seeks his evangelisation through Word and Sacrament, an undertaking that was very often heroic in the way it was achieved in history ; »
Thus, everything changes ! Reparation is made not only for the naturalism of Paul VI, but also for the “ repentance ” of John Paul II, offensive to our missionaries, aggravating what Fr. de Nantes already called the “ betrayal ” in Populorum progressio, since in it, the Christian, Catholic miracle was … forgotten ! to the benefit of « ancestral institutions and convictions » the preservation of which Paul VI recommended. (no 10) without ever marking his preference for the Catholic patrimony or exalting the worth of Christian civilisation (Letter no 245).
Benedict XVI gives back to us our pride of being Catholic, sons of the Holy Roman Church :
« And it [The Church] seeks to promote man in the various arenas of life and human activity. Love is therefore the service that the Church carries out in order to attend constantly to the sufferings and needs of man, even his material needs. It is this aspect, this service of charity, on which I want to focus in the second part of the Encyclical. »
What would the Church be if she were only a spiritual community, a pure religious bond without any material support, without any social institution ? « It is normal and necessary – and indeed ordained by Jesus Christ – that the Church assume all the realities of earthly life, of families, peoples and kingdoms. » (G. de Nantes, 150 Points of the Phalange, Point no 29, “ Church and Christendom ”) This is what Benedict XVI proposes to develop in an entirely “ new ” manner, at least from the standpoint of forty “ post-conciliar ” years. A simple comparison of the critical apparatus of Populorum progressio with that of reveals this novelty.
In his analysis, Fr. de Nantes observed that « the examination of the sixty-nine quotations in this encyclical, which is dedicated to the progress of peoples, will soon remove any hesitation as to its Catholic worth. It ignores, with good reason, the Authorities of Tradition ; it rests essentially on the theories of living authors, whose works are cited and who all belong to the French schools of theology and sociology censured by Pius XII. That indicates a rupture ; it is the consecration of rebellion. For us it is a provocation ! Of course there are 15 references to Holy Scripture and one to the Fathers of the Church, but none to the great scholastics and moralists and none to any of the other Councils or to any Popes other than the modern ones. There is one reference to Pascal, nine to Popes Leo XIII, Pius XI and Pius XII. On the other hand there are thirty-five ample quotations from John XXIII, Paul VI and Vatican II ; and there are eight quotations from contemporary leaders of doctrinal and social modernism. Thus, forty-three of the sixty-nine quotations form the authoritative basis for a Christianity dating from 1958.
« If we study the value of these quotations, we find that the rupture is even more striking. Holy Scripture is quoted 15 times but in that very free and easy manner to which Paul VI has accustomed us. Very often their value is no more than ornamental, sometimes they are misused. They are unexpectedly torn from their context and even flagrantly transposed from the spiritual to the carnal and from the mystical to the political domain ! The same treatment is inflicted on St. Ambrose, Leo XIII and Pius XII. Their teachings are torn from their proper domain where they were authoritative and made to serve as apparent sources for entirely new affirmations. This critical apparatus is therefore all trompe l’oeil. The references to modern authors, on the other hand, are all fully justified. They testify to a veritable new tradition, which comes from those schools of theology and sociology that were suspect prior to 1962, and which passes via John XXIII and Vatican II in order to take shape as orthodoxy in the Letters and Speeches of Paul VI. » (Letter to My Friends no 245, p. 2)
The comparison with speaks for itself : Benedict XVI quotes Holy Scripture eighty times, the Fathers of the Church four times ; twenty-five citations refer to the history of the Church, to her saints and their works of charity, always to the honour and the glory of the Church – compared to two references to the Council and only one to John Paul II, repeated twice identically (notes 21 and 27).
CHARITY AS THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH.
« 20. Love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a mission entrusted to each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a mission entrusted to the entire ecclesial Community at every level : from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organised if it is to be a well-ordered service to the community. »
« The awareness of this mission has had a constitutive relevance in the Church from the beginning : “ All who believed were together and had all things in common ; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need ” (Ac 2.44-45). In these words, Luke provides a kind of definition of the Church, the constitutive elements of which include fidelity to the “ teaching of the Apostles ”, “ communion ” (koinonía), “ the breaking of the bread ” and “ prayer ” (cf. Ac 2.42). The element of “ communion ” (koinonía), which is not described here in greater detail, acquires a more concrete character in the verses quoted above : their communion consists precisely in the fact that believers hold all things in common and that among them, the distinction between rich and poor no longer exists (cf. also Ac 4.32-37). As the Church grew, this radical form of material communion could not in fact be preserved. »
The alleged Communism of the Early Church thus ceases to be an argument against natural morality and Catholic social doctrine in order to present exactly the model of devotion and generosity that Christian families and above all religious communities have always imitated as the fulfilling of an evangelical counsel. It is not, however, a Communist manifesto before Communism existed, as Fr. de Nantes pointed out in 1968 when opposing the revolutionary “ Fonds obligatoire ” imposed by the French bishops for the teaching of catechism (CRC no 14, November 1968, p.11)
« Yet its essential core remained : within the community of the faithful the kind of poverty that deprives anyone of what is needed for a humanly dignified life must not exist. »
Paul VI extended this requirement to the whole of humanity by virtue of the “ rights of man ”. Benedict XVI brings it back to the “ family ” concern for charity that reigns « within the community of believers », the Catholic Church. He is going to retrace the extraordinary advance that she made throughout the centuries, step by step, over all the “ civilisations ” of the universe.
« 21. In our search for a way of putting this fundamental ecclesial principle into practice we will discover a decisive step in the episode of the choice of the seven men, which marked the origin of the diaconal office (cf. Ac 6.5-6). What was at issue in the early Church was a disparity that had arisen in the daily distribution to widows, between Hebrew speakers and Greek speakers. The Apostles, who had been entrusted primarily with “ prayer ” (the Eucharist and the liturgy) and the “ ministry of the Word ”, felt over-burdened by “ serving tables ”, so they decided to reserve to themselves the principal duty and to designate for the other task, also necessary in the Church, a group of Seven. This group should not, however, carry out a purely mechanical work of distribution. They were to be men “ full of the Spirit and of wisdom ” (cf. Ac 6.1-6). This meant that the social service to be provided was absolutely concrete, yet at the same time it was a wholly spiritual service ; their ministry was a truly ecclesial ministry responsible for one of the principal missions of the Church, namely a well-ordered love of neighbour. With the formation of this group of Seven, the “ diaconia ” – the service of love of neighbour exercised in a communitarian, orderly way – became part of the fundamental structure of the Church herself. »
The Church calls to this ministry those whom she judges capable of fulfilling it and she confers, through diaconal ordination, the grace and the power required for its exercise. This has nothing in common with the ngos and other humanitarian organisations ! Nor even with the “ voluntary work ” in which everyone chooses what it pleases him to do or not to do, setting himself some mission or other and then abandoning it when it pleases him.
« 22. As the years went by and the Church spread further afield, the Church defined the exercise of charity, Caritas, as one of her essential activities, along with the administration of the Sacraments and the proclamation of the Word : the exercise of charity towards widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and all persons who in whatever way are in need, this is as much a part of her essence as the ministry of the Sacraments and the preaching of the Gospel. The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word. A few examples will suffice to demonstrate this. »
For Benedict XVI, the three are linked : works of charity, Sacraments and the proclamation of the Gospel. Thus, works of charity are the fruit of the conversion of souls. The whole tradition of the Church, which the Sovereign Pontiff is going to recall, confirms this certainty, the opposite of the utopia of Paul VI who called all humanity to a united development without distinction of religion or irreligion ! « To read Populorum progressio, Fr. de Nantes observed, one would think that all religions are of equal value and that all civilisations are equally venerable by virtue of nothing more than their antiquity and their particular genius. All alike are in conflict with socio-technical progress, like the ancient casings and old wineskins of a new humanism. That is Lammenais ! This “ new world to be built ” excludes no religion (no 47) All “ men of good will ” are called to create it out of nothing each according to his own faith or atheism and from the language of the encyclical it is impossible to ascertain whether there is any difference in value or efficacy between the one and the other belief. (nos 81-86) ! » (Letter to My Friends no 245, published in CCR no 81, p.7)
« Justin Martyr († c. 155) in speaking of the Christians’ celebration of Sunday, also describes their charitable activity, linked with the Eucharist as such. Those who are able make offerings in accordance with their means, each as he wishes The Bishop in turn makes use of these to support orphans, widows, the sick and those who for other reasons find themselves in need, such as prisoners and foreigners12. The great Christian writer Tertullian († after 220) relates how the pagans were struck by the concern of Christians for the needy13. When Ignatius of Antioch († c. 117) described the Church of Rome as “ presiding in charity (agapè) ”14, we may certainly assume that with this definition he also intended in some sense to express her concrete charitable activity. »
« 23. Here it might be helpful to allude to the earliest legal structures associated with the service of charity in the Church. Towards the middle of the fourth century we see the development in Egypt of the “ diaconia ” : the institution within each monastery responsible for all works of relief, that is to say, for the service of charity. By the sixth century this institution had evolved into a corporation with full juridical standing, which the civil authorities themselves entrusted with part of the grain for public distribution. In Egypt not only each monastery, but each individual diocese eventually had its own diaconia ; this institution then developed in both East and West. Pope Gregory the Great († 604) mentions the diaconia of Naples, while in Rome the diaconiae are documented from the seventh and eighth centuries. »
Nicholas V Chapel, Vatican (Fra Angelico)
« Charitable activity on behalf of the poor and suffering was naturally an essential part of life in the Church of Rome from the very beginning, based on the principles of Christian life given in the Acts of the Apostles. This mission found a vivid expression in the case of the deacon Lawrence († 258). The dramatic description of the martyrdom of Lawrence was known to Saint Ambrose († 397) and it provides a fundamentally authentic picture of the saint. As the one responsible for the care of the poor in Rome, Lawrence had been given a period of time, after the capture of the Pope and of his fellow deacons, to collect the treasures of the Church and hand them over to the civil authorities. Lawrence distributed to the poor whatever funds were available and then presented to the authorities the poor themselves as the real treasure of the Church15. Whatever historical reliability one attributes to these details »…
It is permissible to regret this concession to a debatable historical criticism that disconcerts the faith of the faithful without contributing anything to the reasoning, and spoils this magnificent passage and its irrefutable conclusion :
… « Lawrence has always remained present in the memory of the Church as a great exponent of ecclesial charity. »
« 24. A mention of the emperor Julian the Apostate († 363) can also show how essential the early Church considered the organised and concrete practice of charity. As a child of six years, Julian witnessed the assassination of his father, brother and other family members by the guards of the imperial palace ; rightly or wrongly, he blamed this brutal act on the Emperor Constantius, who passed himself off as an outstanding Christian. »
This Constantius, the successor of Constantine, in fact supported the Arian heresy with all his power.
« The Christian Faith was thus definitively discredited in his eyes. Upon becoming emperor, Julian decided to restore paganism, the ancient Roman religion, while reforming it in such a way as to make it the driving force behind the empire. In this project he was amply inspired by Christianity. He established a hierarchy of metropolitans and priests who were to foster love of God and neighbour. In one of his letters16, he wrote that the sole aspect of Christianity that had impressed him was the charitable activity of the Church. He thus considered it essential for his new pagan religion that, alongside the system of the charity of the Church, an equivalent activity of its own be established. According to him, this was the reason for the popularity of the “ Galileans ”, as he called them. They needed now to be imitated and outdone. In this way, then, the Emperor confirmed that charity was a decisive feature of the Christian community, of the Church. »
« 25. Thus far, two essential facts have emerged from our reflections :
« a) The profound nature of the Church is expressed in a three-fold responsibility : of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the Sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity that could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being17. »
Paul VI and John Paul II prided themselves in « leaving it to others » ! with a thought to creating an emulation among all “ religions ”. Benedict XVI puts an end to this practical apostasy and gives back to the Roman Church, which is « necessary to the world » (cf. CRC no 29, p. 10), her sovereignty that she receives from God.
« b) The Church is the family of God in the world. »
The “ other religions ” are outside this « family of God » and thus ineffective.
« In this family no one ought to go without the necessities of life. Yet at the same time caritas-agapè extends beyond the frontiers of the Church. The parable of the Good Samaritan remains as a standard that imposes universal love towards the needy whom we encounter “ by chance ” (cf. Lk 10.31), whoever they may be. Without in any way detracting from this commandment of universal love, the Church also has a specific mission : within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need. The teaching of the Letter to the Galatians is emphatic : “ So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, and especially to those who are of the household of the Faith ” (6.10). »
The Church is a family and our “ neighbour ” is first of all the Catholic in need ; the Church is a Mother who cares first for her children. The movement of her heart also impels her to come to the assistance of the poor whoever they may be, « while we have the time » St. Paul says, before the return of the Lord, which is imminent !
JUSTICE AND CHARITY.
« 26. Since the nineteenth century, an objection has been raised to the charitable activity of the Church, subsequently developed with insistence, particularly by Marxism. The poor, it is claimed, do not need charity but justice. Works of charity – almsgiving – are in effect a way for the rich to shirk their obligation to work for justice and a means of soothing their consciences, while preserving their own privileges and depriving the poor of their rights. Instead of contributing through various works of charity to maintaining the status quo, we need to build a just social order in which all receive their share of the goods of the world and no longer have to depend on charity. »
« There is admittedly some truth to this argument, but it is in fact erroneous. »
« There is some truth » in Marxist criticism when one thinks, for example, of Thiers and the Orleanist or Republican capitalists, the famous “ dynasties bourgeoises ” denounced by Beau de Loménie. It would be totally « erroneous », however, to confuse these non-believers, perfect Voltarians, with the Catholic socialist legitimists, who had a true concern for the material and spiritual needs of the people in a total unselfishness, and with the sole aim of procuring their eternal and even temporal salvation.
« It is true that the pursuit of justice must be a fundamental norm of the State and that the aim of a just social order is to guarantee to each person, according to the principle of subsidiarity, his share of the common good. This has always been emphasised by Christian doctrine on the State and by the social doctrine of the Church. »
« Subsidiarity » was a term proper to ecclesiastical language (cf. Catechism of Benedict XVI nos 402-403), before it became a key principle of our international organisations and of our administrative law. It is to be understood as the principle of organisation according to which a superior authority must let inferior authorities act insofar as they can carry out a task better than itself. By referring to it here, it is the intention of the Pope to point out, while acknowledging the fundamental role of the State for the establishment of a « just social order », that it must only intervene in the event of the inadequacy of private initiative, for a reason that Fr. de Nantes has perfectly brought out :
« Essentially different from Kantian moralism, Catholic doctrine recognises the proper value of the good things of natural life. It is a humanism. It accepts the maxim of “ sacred egoism ”, each man for himself and God for all, a provocative expression of the fundamental principle of autonomy, referred to as “ subsidiarity ” by our moderns : let each first be concerned for himself ; each family for its own life and its own prosperity. The Church, therefore, recognises the natural autonomy of temporal communities, and she recognises their authority to determine their ends and means, their rights and duties, through a science and an art that come under reason alone. » (The 150 Points of the Phalange, Point 102. “ A Catholic Ecology ”)
« Historically, the issue of the just ordering of the collectivity entered a new phase with the development of industrial society in the nineteenth century. »
It is true that the two events – the social question and the industrial revolution – are contemporary. Simultaneity, however, does not mean a cause to effect relationship. For it is not « industrial society », but the French Revolution that opened what it is proper to call the “ social question ”. By suppressing the right of association by the Le Chapelier Law of 14 June 1791, the Revolution destroyed the ancient order of Christian society. Mgr Freppel wrote in 1889, for the centenary of the Revolution :
« Under the appearance of freedom it is isolation that was brought to the worker, and with isolation, weakness. The individual remained completely alone, with none of the material or moral resources that he used to draw from a body, the corporation, of which he was formerly a member. From then on there was no longer a trace of hierarchy ; no longer any social paternity, no longer any cure of souls ; no longer any professional fraternity ; no longer any common rules ; no longer any solidarity of interest, honour and reputation ; no longer any close links among masters, workers and apprentices ; no longer any guarantees for the weak against the strong ; no longer any protection of ordinary people by the great.
« Rather, it was replaced by a frenetic competition, a struggle for life in which everyone, reduced to relying on his own strength, sought to prevail over others, at the risk of bringing about their ruin ; a fray where one is elbowed, crushed, trampled underfoot, that is to say, in sum, oppression from above, servitude below, antagonism everywhere and union nowhere : such is the situation the French Revolution came to create for the working class. » (quoted by Brother Pascal, He is Risen n° 13, September 2003, p. 13)
« The rise of modern industry caused the old social structures to collapse, while the growth of a class of salaried workers provoked radical changes in the fabric of society. The relationship between capital and labour became the decisive issue – an issue which in that form was previously unknown. Capital and the means of production became the new source of power which, concentrated in the hands of a few, led to the suppression of the rights of the working classes, against which they had to rebel. »
Must we understand that Benedict XVI is stating an historical fact ? Or is he justifying the revolt : « they had to rebel » ? This second hypothesis is all the more unacceptable because the social war was not inevitable. It would have sufficed to listen to Mgr Freppel or Mgr Kettler explain that capital needs labour, and that labour is powerless without capital. Moreover, the Bishop of Angers denied these abstractions of capital, of labour, behind which there were living beings, one contributing his money, the other his work, in order to produce something together. Thus the need for an understanding and a contract in due form concluded under the guarantee of a superior authority : the corporation, an indispensable “ intermediary body ”, itself submitted to the authority of God.
« 27. It must be admitted that the representatives of the Church only came to understand progressively that the issue of the just structuring of society needed to be approached in a new way. There were many pioneers : one of them, for example, was Mgr Ketteler, the Bishop of Mainz († 1877). »
Since Benedict XVI evokes the great figure of Mgr Ketteler, let us point out that this prelate was the great uncle of Mother Mary of the Divine Heart, née Maria Droste zu Vischering (CCR n° 318, April 1999). A model of priestly spirit and pastoral zeal, a declared adversary of the secularism and liberalism of the State, he was one of the most representative figures, and the most courageous one, of the extraordinary Catholic renewal in Germany in the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1863, during the General Congress of Catholics at Frankfurt, he had brought to a vote an agenda that introduced the social question. Without waiting, he published the following year The Labour Question and Christianity, a book in which could be read : « It is not the struggle between the employer and the employee that must be the aim, but an equitable peace between the two. » He then denounced free enterprise as « a slave market » and called for « a social organisation of all the natural associations based on a corporative structure. »
Without being chauvinistic, we are proud to recall that in France the Saint Joseph Society dates from 1822, uniting a certain number of Catholic heads of workshops desirous of transforming their enterprises into veritable small Christian communities. In 1829, Alban Villeneuve-Bargemont, deeply moved by his investigations in the North of France, publicly denounced the shameless exploitation of miners. Charles de Coux fulminated against « the pauperism » of the Protestant countries. In 1837, Mgr Belmas, Archbishop of Cambrai, stigmatised the « greed » of the manufacturers of Lille and denounced the insufficiency of the salaries that represented « only a small proportion of what workers produce, which scarcely corresponds to a drop, a single drop, of their abundant sweat ».
In 1838, Mgr de Croÿs, Archbishop of Rouen, protested against child labour in these terms : « Poor little children ! May laws hasten to extend their protection over your existence, and may posterity read with astonishment on the brow of this century, self-contented : In these days of progress and discoveries, a law of iron was needed to forbid the killing of children by work. »
Mgr de Bonald, Archbishop of Lyon, on the very day he took possession of his see, on 2 July 1840, declared to workers of Lyon : « We would like to be able to ease your position, make your lot less bitter. He who speaks to you feels for you the tenderness of a pastor and a father ; he will always have for you the heart of a friend. » He proved it by developing charities for the labourers of his diocese, and demanding Sunday as a day of rest « for the health of the people ».
« I will have you know, he said to the capitalists of his time, that in society, religion and virtues are more necessary than money and industry ; society needs men and not brutes or automatons. »
Mgr Giraud, Archbishop of Cambrai, denounced in 1847 « the exploitation of man by man ».
We would have to speak also of Armand de Melun and of Sr. Rosalie Rendu, of Maurice Maignen, of Fr. Boucher in Anjou, of Fr. Timon-David at Marseille, of Fr. Kolping in Germany, of Fr. Planchat, victim of the communards because of his counter-revolutionary influence over Parisian workers, of Charles Périn, the eminent Belgium economist, a friend of Pius IX and Mgr Freppel, who was disowned by Leo XIII, etc. All of this before 1870 !
« In response to concrete needs groups, associations, unions, federations and, in particular, new religious orders were founded in the nineteenth century. They engaged in the fight against poverty, disease and inadequacies in the education sector. »
Let us mention at least the Association of Apprentices, of Windthorst, in Germany, and the pradosiens of Fr. Chevrier, in France, without forgetting the School of Fribourg, of Mgr Mermillod, or the Workers’ Circles of La Tour du Pin and Albert de Mun, etc.
« In 1891, the papal Magisterium intervened with the Encyclical Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII. This was followed in 1931 by Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno of Pius XI. In 1961 Blessed John XXIII published the Encyclical Mater et Magistra, while Paul VI, in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio (1967) and in the Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens (1971), insistently addressed the social problem, which had meanwhile become especially acute in Latin America. My great predecessor John Paul II left us a trilogy of social Encyclicals : Laborem Exercens (1981), Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987) and finally Centesimus Annus (1991). Faced with ever new situations and issues, Catholic social doctrine thus gradually developed, and has now found a comprehensive presentation in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, published in 2004 by the Pontifical Council Iustitia et Pax. »
It may be pointed out that Benedict XVI confines himself to making a list of documents as a required reference from which he infers nothing, which is quite preferable ! For example, Octogesima adveniens is the manifesto of an anti-establishment pope, and Laborem exercens is a Marxist Encyclical, as Fr. de Nantes demonstrated. (CCR no 17, June 1971; no 140, November 1981) Pope Benedict XVI, however, writes unequivocally :
« Marxism had presented world revolution and its preliminaries as the panacea for the social problem : revolution and the subsequent collectivisation of the means of production, so it was claimed in this doctrine, would immediately change things for the better. This illusion has vanished. »
It was not only a dream, alas ! but a bloody chimera that led millions of human beings to the gulag, to misery the mother of all vices and to famine… and how many souls into Hell ? ! as was prophesised by Pius X whose motu proprio Il fermo proposito and the are absent from the list of the interventions of the Magisterium recalled here, and for good reason ! For the “ social doctrine ” of Saint Pius X is in every particular contrary to the one imposed from Leo XIII to John Paul II, which led the Church to accept the class struggle, in the very logic of the rallying of these Popes to the plutocratic and antichrist Republic. They merely contented themselves with condemning its excesses, sometimes with vigour, but with little effectiveness. We can see the result today : the Church no longer has any real influence in our modern societies. Unfortunately the two following sentences show us that Benedict XVI is still a prisoner of the illusion of this “ social doctrine of the Church ”, that certain directors of big companies may well respect and even study, as long as it does not call into question the “ globalisation ” that allows unrestrained capitalism to prosper, even if it means condemning excesses with pious wishes.
« In the difficult situation in which we find ourselves today, due precisely to the globalisation of the economy, the social doctrine of the Church has become a fundamental point of reference, which proposes approaches that are valid well beyond the confines of the Church : in the face of ongoing development these approaches need to be addressed in the context of dialogue with all those seriously concerned about man and about the world in which he lives. »
Benedict XVI, however, is not blind and he is well placed for noticing the sad state of the charitable organisations of the Church, eroded just about everywhere by the Welfare State and all types of ngos. Thus he arrives at reflections obviously reactionary in comparison with his immediate predecessors.
« 28. In order to define more accurately the relationship between the necessary commitment to justice and the ministry of charity, two fundamental situations need to be considered : »
« a) The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of politics. As Augustine once said, a State that is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves : “ Remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia ? ”18 »
This is the picture of our present social life, deprived, under the pretext of “ secularism ”, of « divine positive law to direct, regulate and soften its brutal mechanisms », and above all without « political authority to subject private interests to the major necessities of the common good and so maintain a certain indispensable equilibrium and stability, a superior justice. Therefore material, and above all financial, social power develops all its effects without hindrance. The pursuit of the highest profit and yield, domination of the market, and the monopoly of goods, and thereby of power and honours, even to the buying of consciences, prevails over every other consideration. » (Point 111)
« Fundamental to the structure of Christianity is the distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22.21), in other words, the distinction between Church and State, or, as the Second Vatican Council puts it, the autonomy of the temporal sphere.19 The State may not impose religion, yet it must guarantee its freedom and harmony among the followers of different religions. »
The State cannot impose the Catholic religion, but it can give the example by rendering unto God the things that belong to God.
« For her part, the Church, as the social expression of the Christian Faith, has a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her Faith as a community, which the State must recognise. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated. »
Thus Benedict XVI joins in the tradition of Saint Pius X, who wrote to the bishops of France in his of 25 August 1910 :
« Social structures must be organised in such a manner that, by their natural interplay, they thwart the efforts of the unscrupulous and enable all men of good will to attain their legitimate share of temporal happiness. We earnestly desire that you should take an active part in the organisation of society with this objective in mind. » (no 44)
« Justice is the aim and therefore the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life : its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics. Thus the State must inevitably face the question of how justice can be achieved here and now. This question, however, presupposes an even more radical one : what is justice ? The question is one of practical reason ; but if reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification, since it can never be completely free of the danger of a certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling effect of power and special interests.
« Here politics and Faith meet. »
Thus there is, by virtue of this concurrence, a “ Christian politics ”, « inherited from biblical theocracy and from Roman order », which « is also a human and divine wisdom, a practical art serving as a model, offered to all peoples to permit them to attain a strong, just, peaceful and stable internal order, and at the same time to enter the alliance of the civilised nations who are determined to hold in check any belligerent revival of savagery. » (Point no 52)
« Faith by its specific nature is an encounter with the living God – an encounter opening up new horizons »…
By virtue of the Catholic Faith, Heaven, « the only goal of all our works », according to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, opens up the temporal horizon of politics itself to the beyond :
… « extending well beyond the sphere of reason. »…
… of reason and of its “ organising empiricism ” that governs politics.
« Yet at the same time it is a purifying force for reason itself. »
Thus for politics. Its fruit is « the Christian civilisation, inherited from the Gospel, preserved from century to century and enriched by the many contributions and traditions of different peoples, but perhaps raised to its highest degree of perfection by “ la doulce France ”, is finally the inspired means, blessed and protected by God down to our day, for spreading and laying the foundations of Christendom among all the peoples of the earth, in that harmony made possible by admirable and incomparable common customs. » (ibid.)
« From the standpoint of God, Faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself. Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly. This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place : it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. »
The words of the Lord : « My kingdom is not of this world », leave political science to scholars and the art of politics to those who govern. They abolish all political theocracy.
« Even less does she wish to impose on those who do not share the Faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to Faith. »
This is why Caesar must be obeyed, even unjust, violent and persecuting.
« Her aim is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just. »
The Pope therefore gives the “ social doctrine of the Church ” the sole aim of making everyone live in charity, justice and peace with his neighbour ; to attain this, it will be quite necessary one day to purge it of its craze for the Rights of Man that interfere with what Benedict XVI now going to explain :
« The social doctrine of the Church argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. According to its principles, it recognises that it is not the responsibility of the Church to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest.
« Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his due, is an essential task that every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the immediate responsibility of the Church. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically. »
Saint Pius X said by the same token that reforming civilisation is an « undertaking that is above all religious in character ; for there is no true civilisation without a moral civilisation, and no true moral civilisation without the true religion : it is a proven truth, a historical fact. » (Letter on the Sillon, no 36). Benedict XVI continues :
« The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. »
The expression « political battle » conveys well the impurity that the passion of “ politics ” has in our democratic societies. This is why many honest citizens lose interest and above all do not want « the Church to get involved in politics ».
Nevertheless, Cardinal Sarto took in hand the political battle in Venice, with the openly declared aim of throwing « out the freemasons ! »
When he became Pope, he announced straightaway :
« We are of necessity concerned with politics. Any man, however, who is willing to judge equitably can see that the Sovereign Pontiff, invested by God with the supreme Magisterium, cannot detach political affairs from the domain of Faith and morals… which is our divine mission, for it includes the defence of the Gospel in every sphere, including politics. » (CCR no 69, p.12)
« She cannot and must not replace the State. »
The Church does not want to further her religion through the political game, the conquest of power, the class struggle, the revolt of slaves, the reign of the armed forces. The Kingdom of God, established by Jesus Christ, conquers in holiness all humanity by divine grace and the free response of persons according to the recommendation of the Lord : « Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. »
« Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. »
Because without her, justice will always remain an empty word, an electoral slogan when it is not a utopia soon bloody because it is revolutionary.
« The Church has to play her part in this fight through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something that concerns the Church deeply. »
For two thousand years, Christian thought, inherited from biblical wisdom, has been and remains the intellectual preparation necessary for all human fraternal communication. This is the second point :
« b) Love – caritas – will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering that cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. Likewise, there will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable.20 »
Following the example of Saint Pius X, Benedict XVI challenges the opposition of justice to charity, according to the great thought of the social Catholics, particularly dear to Mgr Kettler. Mgr Freppel compared charity to the synovia required for the good functioning of the knee joint. Charity tempers the too rigid character of justice.
« The State that would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing that the suffering man – every man – needs : namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State that regulates and controls everything, but a State that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. »
This passage condemns irrevocably, with sovereign authority, our “ French social model ” born of the revolution of 1789. Through the voice of Benedict XVI, the Church recognises the natural autonomy of temporal communities, and she invites the State to return to them the freedom to determine ends and means, rights and duties.
« The Church is one of those living forces : she is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not simply offer men material help, but it strengthens and heals their souls, something that often is even more necessary than material support. »
With a view to eternal salvation, both are necessary.
« In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man : the mistaken notion that man can live “ by bread alone ” (Mt 4.4; cf. Dt 8.3) – a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human. »
Namely the vocation of man and woman to become adoptive sons and daughters of God the Father, through the grace of God the Son, in His Church, in order to be worthy of entering into the divine life and the eternal beatitude of Heaven.
« 29. Thus we can now determine more precisely, in the life of the Church, the relationship between commitment to the just ordering of the State and society on the one hand, and organised charitable activity on the other. We have seen that the formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, that is to say, to the sphere of the responsible use of reason. »
That is to say, by a political science and an ecological art based on reason alone and on its prudent organisational empiricism.
« The Church has an indirect influence on this formation, insofar as she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures can neither be established nor prove effective in the long run. »
To the extent that good family life, for example, finds its requisite light and strength, goal and rule in love of God and neighbour, in the pursuit of eternal salvation and the spirit of sacrifice with a view to a supernatural good, the Christian spirit and the life of religion are, not integral parts of economic and social science, but indispensable exterior aids.
« The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. »
Without excluding clerics, according to the directive of Saint Pius X to the French bishops :
« To this end, whilst your priests will zealously devote themselves to the work of the sanctification of souls, to the defence of the Church, and also to works of charity in the strict sense, you shall select a few of them, level-headed and of active disposition, holders of Doctors’ degrees in philosophy and theology, thoroughly acquainted with the history of ancient and modern civilisations, and you shall set them to the not-so-lofty but more practical study of the social sciences, so that you may place them at the opportune time at the helm of your works of Catholic action. » (Letter on the Sillon, no 44)
« As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. So they cannot relinquish their participation “ in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural activities that are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good. ”21 »
Saint Pius X even made it a duty for them : « Since in the clash of interests, and especially in the struggle against dishonest forces, the virtue of man, and even his holiness are not always sufficient to guarantee him his daily bread, and since social structures ought to be devised so that, through their natural interplay, they thwart the efforts of the unscrupulous and enable all men of good will to attain their legitimate share of temporal happiness, We earnestly desire that you should take an active part in the organisation of society with this objective in mind. » (ibid.)
« One of the missions of the faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility22. Even if the specific expressions of ecclesial charity can never be confused with the activity of the State, it still remains true that charity must animate the entire lives of the lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as “ social charity ”.23 »
In order for individual egoism and all the frenzies of the passions to yield to the interest of families, to the ideal of happy community life that political science and ecological art require, the superior light of Faith, the energies of hope and charity, recourse to prayer and the Sacraments of the Church are necessary. So true is it that there is no humanism other than Christian !
« The charitable organisations of the Church, on the other hand, constitute her opus proprium, a mission in keeping with her nature, in which she does not cooperate collaterally, but acts as a subject with direct responsibility, doing what corresponds to her nature. The Church can never be exempted from practising charity as an organised activity of the faithful, and on the other hand, there will never be a situation where the charity of each individual Christian is unnecessary, because in addition to justice man needs, and will always need, love. »
Indeed, Saint Pius X taught that « the source of love of neighbour is found in the love of God, who is Father to all, and goal of the whole human family ; and in the love of Jesus Christ whose members we are, to the point that in doing good to others we are doing good to Jesus Christ Himself. Any other kind of love is sheer illusion, sterile and fleeting. » (Letter on the Sillon, no 24)
THE MULTIPLE STRUCTURES OF CHARITABLE SERVICE
IN THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF THE PRESENT DAY.
« 30. Before attempting to define the specific profile of the activities of the Church in the service of man, I now wish to consider the overall situation of the struggle for justice and love in the world of today. »
The Pope opens a parenthesis in which we no longer recognise the preceding style or logic of thought. One could think that it is a picture of the situation that his assistants, still accustomed to the speeches of his predecessor, have drawn up for him without taking into account what we have just read. In other words, this number 30 appears to be a Wojtylian aerolite. See for yourself :
« a) The means of mass communication have made our planet smaller, rapidly narrowing the distance between different peoples and cultures. This “ togetherness ” at times gives rise to misunderstandings and tensions, yet our ability to know almost instantly about the needs of others challenges us to share their situation and their difficulties. Despite the great advances made in science and technology, each day we see how much suffering there is in the world on account of different kinds of poverty, both material and spiritual. »
There is no analysis of the causes of this increase in poverty. There is no inventory of the different spiritual forms that it takes on account of erroneous doctrines.
« Our times call for a new readiness to assist our neighbours in need. The Second Vatican Council had made this point very clearly : “ Now that (…), through better means of communication, distances between peoples have been almost eliminated (…), charitable activity can and should embrace all people and all needs.24 ” »
The intrusion of the Second Vatican Council suddenly leads us away from Catholic charity to a planetary Masonic “ solidarity ”.
« On the other hand – and here we see one of the challenging yet also positive sides of the process of globalisation – we now have at our disposal numerous means for offering humanitarian assistance to our brothers in need, and especially modern systems of distributing food and clothing, and of providing housing and care. »
Here, only material poverty is taken into account.
« Concern for our neighbour transcends the confines of national communities and tends to broaden its horizon to the whole world. The Second Vatican Council rightly observed that “ among the signs of our times, one particularly worthy of note is a growing, inescapable sense of solidarity among all peoples.25 ” »
This analysis has received, for forty years, all possible refutation from the course of events : from the Six-Day War (1967) to the second Iraq War, still ongoing, we have seen the alarming progress of the war of all against all.
« State agencies and humanitarian associations work to promote this, the former through subsidies or tax relief, the latter by making available considerable resources. The solidarity shown by civil society thus significantly surpasses that shown by individuals. »
We were able to see the enormous waste that the management and distribution of these « considerable resources » gave rise to in Asia after the tsunami… Is the Pope aware of this ?
« b) This situation has led to the birth and the growth of many forms of cooperation between State and Church agencies, which have borne fruit. Church agencies, with their transparent operation and their faithfulness to the duty of witnessing to love, are able to give a Christian spirit to the civil agencies too, favouring a mutual coordination that can only redound to the effectiveness of charitable service26. »
, the Movement for the Spiritual Animation of Universal Democracy for which Paul VI longed, is back !
« In this context, we have witnessed the development of numerous organisations for charitable or philanthropic purposes »…
… « Charitable » or « philanthropic » ? It is not the same thing !
« and these are committed to achieving adequate humanitarian solutions to the social and political problems of the day. Significantly, our time has also seen the growth and spread of different kinds of volunteer work, which assume responsibility for providing a variety of services27. I wish here to offer a special word of gratitude and appreciation to all those who take part in these activities in whatever way. For young people, this widespread involvement constitutes a school of life that offers them a formation in solidarity and in readiness to offer others not simply material aid but their very selves. »
This « philanthropic » commitment has dried up recruitment for religious institutes devoted to the perfection of love.
« The anti-culture of death, which finds expression for example in drug use, is thus countered by an unselfish love that shows itself to be a culture of life by the very willingness to “ lose itself ” (cf. Lk 17.33 et passim) for others. »
This language equating « volunteer work » and Christian charity is strange, alien to the teaching of the twenty-nine preceding sections on Love of God and the resulting apostolate for the salvation of souls.
What follows constitutes a scandalous repudiation of the « specific mission of the Church ».
« In the Catholic Church, and also in the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, new forms of charitable activity have arisen, while other, older ones have taken on new life and energy. In these new forms, it is often possible to establish a fruitful link between evangelisation and works of charity. »
In « Churches and Ecclesial Communities » other than the Roman Catholic Church ? According to St. Pius X, « Catholic doctrine teaches us that the primary duty of charity does not lie in the toleration of false ideas, however sincere they may be, nor in the theoretical or practical indifference towards the errors and vices in which we see our brethren plunged, but in the zeal for their intellectual and moral improvement as well as for their material well-being. » (Letter on the Sillon, no 24) Here, however, Benedict XVI is referring to John Paul II and not Saint Pius X :
« Here I would clearly reaffirm what my great predecessor John Paul II wrote in his Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis,28 when he asserted the readiness of the Catholic Church to cooperate with the charitable agencies of these Churches and Communities, since we all have the same fundamental motivation and look towards the same goal : a true humanism, which acknowledges that man is made in the image of God and wants to help him to live in a way consonant with that dignity. »
For forty year Fr. de Nantes has refused this « new humanism » proclaimed by Paul VI in his closing speech of the Council on 7 December 1965, the first article of which is the cult of man, faith in man, respect for his liberty and his rights, by virtue of an inadmissible natural dignity. « That is pure indoctrination, pure brainwashing ! » Fr. de Nantes protested (Book of Accusation for heresy againt the author of the supposed catechism of the catholic church, 1993, p. 29). No one has been able to reply to these accusations, of unprecedented gravity, because they are but the echo of the condemnations made by Saint Pius X against « the audacity and frivolity of men who call themselves Catholics and dream […] of establishing on earth, over and beyond the pale of the Catholic Church, “ the reign of justice and love ”, with workers coming from everywhere, of all religions and of no religion, with or without beliefs, so long as they forget/ what divides them – their religious and philosophical convictions – and so long as they share what unites them – a generous idealism and moral forces drawn from “ wherever they can ”.
« When one considers the forces, knowledge, and supernatural virtues that were necessary to establish the Christian City, and the sufferings of millions of martyrs, and the light given by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the self-sacrifice of all the heroes of charity, and a powerful hierarchy ordained in Heaven, and the streams of Divine Grace – the whole having been built up, bound together, and impregnated by the life and spirit of Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God, the Word made man – when one thinks, We say, of all this, it is frightening to behold new apostles eagerly attempting to do better by a common interchange of vague idealism and civic virtues. What are they going to produce ? What is to come of this collaboration ? A mere verbal and chimerical construction in which we shall see, glowing in a jumble, and in seductive confusion, the words liberty, justice, fraternity, love, equality, and human exultation, all resting upon an ill-understood human dignity. It will be a tumultuous agitation, sterile for the end proposed, but which will benefit the less utopian . » (Letter on the Sillon, no 38)
Such was the pontificate of John Paul II.
« His Encyclical Ut unum sint emphasised once again that the building of a better world requires Christians to speak with a united voice in working to inculcate “ respect for the rights and needs of everyone, especially the poor, the lowly and the defenceless ”.29 Here I would like to express my joy, for this appeal has found a wide resonance in numerous initiatives throughout the world. »
In reality, the reign of John Paul II produced the « worst » that Saint Pius X feared, to the benefit of « a religion more universal than the Catholic Church, uniting all men who have finally become brothers » (ibid., no 39).
THE DISTINCTIVENESS OF
THE CHARITABLE ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH.
This is where the end Wojtylan insertion ends and Catholic doctrine resumes.
« 31. The increase in diversified organisations engaged in meeting various human needs is ultimately due to the fact that the command of love of neighbour is inscribed by the Creator in the very nature of man. »
The Pope demonstrated this in Part 1 : love of man for woman, of the child for his parents.
« This growth, however, is also a result of the presence of Christianity in the world, since Christianity constantly revives and acts out this imperative, so often profoundly obscured in the course of history. »
It is obscured owing to the weakness of nature and the taint of original sin ; nevertheless, between parents and children, the gift of life and baptism are the basis of an ineradicable filial love. Despite betrayals and infidelities, the couple who are sacramentally married conserve a streak of effective friendship, an instinctive love sublimated by a spiritual love, and a stock of charity, of gratuitous love always present.
« The reform of paganism attempted by the emperor Julian the Apostate is only an initial example of this effect. In this sense, the power of Christianity spreads well beyond the frontiers of the Christian Faith. »
It is a confirmed truth, it is an historical fact : the Roman Catholic Church, sure of herself because she is sure of her God, like a fortified city in a barbarian country, or like a ship of the line in the storm, was, before the Second Vatican Council, a blessing for the world. « That six hundred million human beings keep themselves in an order of obedience and sacred brotherhood cannot be without influence over the peace of States and the submission of citizens to the laws of their countries, indeed to those of their other religions. » (Georges de Nantes, The Church of Rome is Necessary for the World, CRC no 29, February 1970).
Julian the Apostate, imitating Christianity in his “ reformation of paganism ”, had understood this. The insistence of Benedict XVI in calling it to mind is a supreme opportunity in our apostate world that claims to establish the “ civilisation of love ” on the ruins of Christianity.
« For this reason, it is all the more important that the charitable activity of the Church maintain all of its splendour and does not become absorbed into a joint organisation of assistance, becoming simply one of its forms. So what are the essential elements of Christian and ecclesial charity ? »
« a) Following the model given in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Christian charity is first of all the simple response to immediate needs in specific situations : feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for and healing the sick, visiting those in prison, etc. The charitable organisations of the Church, beginning with those of Caritas (at diocesan, national and international levels), ought to do everything in their power to provide the resources and above all the personnel needed for this work »
Caritatis internationalis, the headquarters of which is in Rome, federates a hundred and fifteen national organisations of Catholic assistance.
« With regard to care for those who suffer, professional competence is required above all : caregivers should be properly trained in what to do and how to do it, and committed to continuing care. Yet, while professional competence is a primary, fundamental requirement, it is not of itself sufficient. In reality, they are dealing with human beings, and human beings always need something more than technically proper care. They need humanity. They need heartfelt concern. Those who work for the charitable organisations of the Church must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely implement skilfully the measures needed at the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience their human goodness. »
« Consequently, in addition to their professional training, these persons need a “ formation of the heart ” : they need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ that awakens their love and opens their hearts to others. As a result, love of neighbour will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their Faith, a Faith that becomes active through love (cf. Ga 5.6). »
The practice of charity makes manifest that the Faith is living, according to the words of St. Paul to the Galatians : « In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but Faith working through love. »
« b) Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. »
Ideologies have been the mental and moral support for oppression. The Holy Father sets Christian charity, the living treasure of our millennial Catholic community against the chimera of socialist Equality, a shameless lie :
« It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and it is not at the service of worldly stratagems, but it is a way of making present here and now the love that man always needs. The modern age, particularly from the nineteenth century on, has been dominated by various versions of a philosophy of progress, of which the most radical form is Marxism. »
The nineteenth century was the century of liberal capitalism invading the civilised regions of the ancient Christian monarchies and extending to the colonial world. The twentieth century was the century of Communism, brutally putting an end to the capitalist era, and considered by many as the antidote to the human inadequacies and injustices of liberalism. Actually, capitalism and Communism were two faces of the same revolution of man against God, against the King, and finally against himself ; the death of God, the death of the King, heralded and prefigured the death of man :
« Part of Marxist strategy is the theory of impoverishment : in a situation of unjust power, it is claimed, anyone who engages in charitable initiatives is actually serving that unjust system, making it appear at least to some extent tolerable. This in turn slows down a potential revolution and thus blocks the struggle for a better world. Consequently, charity is rejected and attacked as a means of preserving the status quo. »
« What we have here, though, is really an inhuman philosophy. Man who lives in the present is sacrificed to the Moloch of the future – a future of which the effective realisation is at best doubtful. »
This remark also condemns capitalism.
« One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here and now. We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good now, with full commitment and wherever we have the opportunity, independently of partisan strategies and programmes. The programme of the Christian – the programme of the Good Samaritan, the programme of Jesus – is “ a heart that sees ”. This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly. Obviously when charitable activity is carried out by the Church as a communitarian initiative, the spontaneity of individuals must be combined with planning, foresight and cooperation with other similar institutions. »
Our 150 Points define the same doctrine :
« The charitable services needed by the national community will be created by individual initiative. “ You are all brethren, you all have but one Father ”, Jesus Christ taught. Our common Father is not the State, but God. Any deficiencies in institutions and social systems will be corrected, or at least attenuated and mitigated, by charitable creations initiated by the best people, by the Church in the first place, and, as an exception, by the State provisionally making up for a lack of spontaneous devotion, but more normally by the local and professional communities in direct contact with the hardships to be relieved, such as : the welcoming of immigrants, the reclassification of those on the fringes of society, assistance for the unemployed, aid for the poor, and generally every possible care for those who have fallen through the net of the social fabric and are thereby deprived of all help.
« For “ the poor you will have always with you ” and, perhaps you too will be one of those poor people who ask for help. It is for each to do to others what he would want done to himself in a similar distress, not out of justice nor for political reasons, but through charity. » (Point 132)
« c) Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. »
Not to be confused with apostolic zeal, proselytism is, in Latin America and Africa, the hidden face not only of Muslim terrorism, but also of the “ globalisation ” of American liberalism.
« Love is free ; it is not practised as a way of achieving other ends30. This does not mean, however, that charitable activity must somehow leave God and Christ aside, for it is always concerned with the whole man. Often the deepest cause of suffering is the very absence of God. He who practises charity in the name of the Church will never seek to impose the Faith of the Church upon others. »
Because Faith imposes itself, knowing that the salvation of souls is at stake. The only aim of all the works of the Church is to tear out of souls « the deepest cause of suffering » that is sin.
« He realises that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let charity alone speak. He knows that God is love (cf. 1 Jn 4.8) and that He becomes present at the very time when the only thing we do is to love. He knows – to return to the questions raised earlier – that disdain for love is disdain for God and man alike ; it is an attempt to do without God. Consequently, the best defence of God and man consists precisely in love. The mission of the charitable organisations of the Church is to reinforce this awareness in their members, so that by their activity – as well as their words, their silence, their example – they may be credible witnesses to Christ. »
Such was, in the past, the soul of all apostolate. Here is an admirable account, chosen from among thousands, taken from the Memoirs of Fr. Lionel Labrèche, published in 1982. This Oblate of Mary Immaculate worked from 1936 to 1943 in the Far North of Quebec, already totally evangelised by the Anglicans :
« When you think about it, our positions were not so bad, and were even superior to those of the Protestant Church ; they consisted of several omnipotent weapons full of prestige. We had the weapon of liturgical prayer : our warm and welcoming chapel, with our delightful Latin hymns at Mass as well as at Vespers. We had in addition the weapon of our voluntary and perpetual celibacy ; in the eyes of the Indian, such a sacrifice is only possible for a superman. We had as well the weapon of our poverty ; while the Protestant ministers received enormous salaries from the multi-millionaire Mission Societies, the Catholic missionaries, abandoned to themselves, had to provide for their own needs. All the Indians knew this and they made a point of manifesting to us their admiration. (…) We had the weapon of language ; while the Anglican minister, who was normally with them for a period of two or three years, did not go to the trouble of learning their language, the Catholic missionary worked relentlessly to master it. Through this means, he stood at their level and became a White man unlike the others, in other words, a brother. Finally the last weapon, but certainly the most successful, was our devotedness ; the priest, the brother and the nun were people who could be importuned at all hours, and begged for any kind of service : always a kindly and eager “ yes ”. (…) This is what maintained our morale, having our heart in a constant state of holy emulation in the service of our Faith. » (quoted in The Catholic Renaissance no 132, November 2005)
THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR
THE CHARITABLE ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH.
« 32. Finally, we must turn our attention once again to those who are responsible for carrying out the charitable activity of the Church. As our preceding reflections have made clear, the true subject of the various Catholic organisations that carry out a ministry of charity is the Church herself – at all levels, from the parishes, through the particular Churches, to the universal Church. For this reason it was most opportune that my venerable predecessor Paul VI established the Pontifical Council Cor Unum as the agency of the Holy See responsible for orienting and coordinating the organisations and charitable activities promoted by the Catholic Church. In conformity with the episcopal structure of the Church, the Bishops, as successors of the Apostles, are charged with primary responsibility for carrying out in the particular Churches the programme set forth in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2.42-44) : today as in the past, the Church as the family of God must be a place where help is given and received, and at the same time, a place where people are also prepared to serve all who are in need, even those who do not belong to the Church.. »
It is in the same manner that, at the end of the Letter on the Sillon, Saint Pius X turned to the bishops in order that the leaders of the Sillon « step aside » in their favour in social works :
« We desire that the Sillonist youth, freed from their errors, far from impeding this work that is eminently worthy of your pastoral zeal, should bring to it their loyal and effective contribution in an orderly manner and with befitting submission. » (no 45)
« In the rite of episcopal ordination, prior to the act of consecration itself, the candidate must respond to several questions that express the essential elements of his office and recall the duties of his future ministry. He promises expressly to be, “ in the name of the Lord, welcoming and merciful to the poor and to all those in need of consolation and assistance ”.31 The Code of Canon Law, in the canons on the ministry of the Bishop, does not expressly mention charity as a specific sector of episcopal activity, but speaks in general terms of the responsibility of the Bishop for coordinating the different works of the apostolate with due regard for their proper character32. Recently, however, the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops explored in a more concrete fashion the duty of charity as a mission incumbent upon the whole Church and upon each Bishop in his Diocese33, and it emphasised that the exercise of charity is an action of the Church as such, and that, like the ministry of Word and Sacrament, it too has been an essential part of her mission from the very beginning.34 »
The moment has come for the Pope, whose motto is “ Cooperators of the Truth ”, to kindle our hearts with the brilliant flame of this Truth :
« 33. With regard to the personnel who carry out the charitable activity of the Church on the practical level, the essential has already been said : they must not be inspired by ideologies aimed at improving the world, but should rather be guided by the Faith that works through love (cf. Ga 5.6). Consequently, more than anything, they must be persons moved by the love of Christ, persons whose hearts Christ has conquered with His love, awakening within them a love of neighbour. Their guiding principle should be this sentence from the Second Letter to the Corinthians : “ The love of Christ urges us on. ” (5.14) The consciousness that, in Christ, God has given Himself for us, even unto death, must inspire us to live no longer for ourselves but for Him, and, with Him, for others. Whoever loves Christ loves the Church, and desires the Church to be increasingly the image and instrument of the love that flows from Christ. The personnel of every Catholic charitable organisation want to work with the Church and therefore with the Bishop, so that the love of God can spread throughout the world. By their sharing in the works of charity of the Church, they wish to be witnesses of God and of Christ, and they wish for this very reason freely to do good to men.
« 34. Interior openness to the Catholic dimension of the Church cannot fail to dispose charity workers to work in harmony with other organisations in serving various forms of need, but in a way that respects what is distinctive about the service that Christ requested of His disciples. St. Paul, in his hymn to charity (cf. 1 Co 13), teaches us that it is always more than activity alone : “ If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ” (v. 3) This hymn must be the Magna Carta of all ecclesial service ; it sums up all the reflections on love that I have offered throughout this Encyclical Letter. Practical activity will always be insufficient, unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a love nourished by an encounter with Christ. My deep personal sharing in the needs and sufferings of others becomes a sharing of my very self with them : if my gift is not to prove a source of humiliation, I must give to others not only something that is my own, but my very self ; I must be personally present in my gift.
« 35. This proper way of serving others also leads to humility. The one who serves does not consider himself superior to the one served, however miserable his situation at the moment may be. Christ took the lowest place in the world – the Cross – and by this radical humility He redeemed us and constantly comes to our aid. Those who are in a position to help others will realise that in doing so they themselves receive help; being able to help others is no merit or achievement of their own. This duty is a grace. The more we do for others, the more we understand and can appropriate the words of Christ : “ We are useless servants. ” (Lk 17.10) »
One would think that this entire magnificent passage draws its inspiration from St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus : « If I had accomplished all the works of St. Paul, I would still consider myself “ a useless servant ” (cf. 17.10), I would find my hands empty ; but this is precisely the cause of my joy, for since I have nothing, I will receive all from the good God. » (The Last Conversations, 23 June 1897)
« We recognise that we are not acting on the basis of any superiority or greater personal efficiency, but because the Lord has graciously enabled us to do so. There are times when the burden of need and our own limitations might tempt us to become discouraged. But precisely then we are helped by the knowledge that, in the end, we are only instruments in the hands of the Lord ; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world. In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord. It is God who governs the world, not we. We offer Him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as He grants us the strength. To do all we can with what strength we have, however, is the task that keeps the good servant of Jesus Christ always at work : “ The love of Christ urges us on ” (2 Co 5.14). »
May God will to grant strength for a long while yet to our beloved Pope Benedict XVI !
« 36. When we consider the immensity of needs of others, we can, on the one hand, be driven towards an ideology that claims to be able to do today what God, in governing the world does not seem to be able to do : fully resolving every problem. Or we can be tempted to give in to inertia, since it would seem that in any event nothing can be accomplished. At such times, a living relationship with Christ is decisive if we are to keep on the right path, without falling into an arrogant contempt for man, something not only unconstructive but actually destructive, or surrendering to a resignation that would prevent us from being guided by love in the service of others. Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed. People who pray are not wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and seems to call for action alone. Piety does not undermine the struggle against the poverty of our neighbours, however extreme. In the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta we have a clear illustration of the fact that time devoted to God in prayer not only does not detract from effective and loving service to our neighbour but is in fact the inexhaustible source of that service. In her letter for Lent 1996, Blessed Teresa wrote to her lay co-workers : “ We need this deep connection with God in our daily life. How can we obtain it ? By prayer ”. »
Even in Buddhist temples ? Rather, let us listen to the pure cry from the heart, as good as gold, from the only worthwhile Thérèse : « How great the power of prayer is ! One might call it a queen having at every moment free access to the king and capable of obtaining all that she requests. » (Manuscript “ C ”, fo 25)
« 37. It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work. Clearly, the Christian who prays does not claim to be able to change the plans of God or correct what He has foreseen. Rather, he seeks an encounter with the Father of Jesus Christ, asking God to be present with the consolation of the Spirit to him and his work. A personal relationship with God and an abandonment to His will can prevent man from being demeaned and save him from falling prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism. »
This is a courageous allusion to Islam that does not know « the personal God » nor « abandonment to His will ».
« An authentically religious attitude prevents man from presuming to judge God, accusing Him of allowing poverty and failing to have compassion for His creatures. When people claim to build a case against God in defence of man, on whom can they depend when human activity proves powerless ? »
Hatred for God and the revolt of man against a Creator seen as jealous of His authority and necessarily overwhelming are the profound mainsprings of the revolutions of our time. This encyclical has been constructed to counter this « false image of God ». Just before concluding, the Pope completes his picture of the God of Jesus Christ by resorting once again to Holy Scripture :
« 38. Certainly Job could complain before God about the presence of incomprehensible and apparently unjustified suffering in the world. »
This is what the Dominican, Fr. Cardonnel did when he discovered in the kitchen of his convent a little mouse dying in a trap set by man (God Today, CRC no 63, December 1972). The difference with Job is that Job himself was the victim, while Fr. Cardonnel was intoxicated with his own “ word ”…
« In his pain he cried out : “ Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come even to His seat !… I would learn what He would answer me, and understand what He would say to me. Would He contend with me in the greatness of His power ?… Therefore I am terrified at His presence ; when I consider, I am in dread of Him. God has made my heart faint ; the Almighty has terrified me. ” (23.3, 5-6, 15-16) »
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who suffered beyond what is imaginable, exclaimed, from within this furnace : « For me prayer is an uplifting of the heart ; a simple glance towards Heaven ; a cry of gratitude and love, uttered equally in sorrow and in joy. In a word, it is something noble, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites it to God. » (Manuscript “ C ”, folio 25) This is all the difference between the New and the Old Testament.
« Often we cannot understand why God refrains from intervening. Yet He does not prevent us from crying out, like Jesus on the Cross : “ My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me ? ” (Mt 27.46). We should continue asking this question in prayerful dialogue before His Face : “ Lord, holy and true, how long will it be ? ” (Ap 6.10). It is St. Augustine who gives us the answer of Faith to our sufferings : “ Si comprehendis, non est Deus – if you understand him, he is not God.35 ” Our protest is not meant to challenge God, or to suggest that error, weakness or indifference can be found in Him. For the believer, it is impossible to imagine that God is powerless or that “ perhaps He is asleep ” (cf. 1 Kg 18.27). »
This is an allusion to the Prophet Elijah mocking the four hundred (false) prophets, idolaters whose cries and dances did not receive the slightest response from their supposed “ god ”.
« Instead, our crying out is, as it was for Jesus on the Cross, the deepest and most radical way of affirming our Faith in His sovereign power. Even in their bewilderment and failure to understand the world around them, Christians continue to believe in the “ goodness and loving kindness of God ” (Tit 3.4). Immersed like everyone else in the dramatic complexity of historical events, they remain unshakably certain that God is our Father and loves us, even when His silence remains incomprehensible. »
Let us point out, nevertheless, that the silence of God would remain less incomprehensible if we agreed to hear the message of His Mother and to accept Her “ little requests ”.
« 39. Faith, hope and charity go together. »
An Angel came down from Heaven exactly ninety years ago to remind us of this, by teaching to Lucy, Francisco and Jacinta this prayer : « My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee. I beg pardon for those who do not believe, who do not adore, who do not hope, who do not love Thee. »
« Hope is practised through the virtue of patience, which continues to do good even in the face of apparent failure, and through the virtue of humility, which accepts the mystery of God and trusts Him even at times of darkness. Faith tells us that God has given His Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true : God is love ! »
The angel of Fatima made this felt by the seers in saying to them, after having repeated this prayer three times : « Pray thus ; the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications. »
« It thus transforms our impatience and our doubts into the sure hope that God holds the world in His hands and that, as the dramatic imagery of the end of the Apocalypse points out, in spite of all darkness He ultimately triumphs in glory. Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced Heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love. Love is the light – and in the end, the only light – that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible, and we are able to practise it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world – this is the invitation I would like to extend with the present Encyclical. »
It is fantastic : it is the “ Franciscan ” way of salvation for a world in perdition. Yet is charity has gone cold, what fire can warm us ?
The fire of the Heart of Mary
« 40. Finally, let us consider the saints, who exercised charity in an exemplary way. Our thoughts turn especially to Martin of Tours († 397), first a soldier, then a monk and a bishop : he is like an icon, illustrating the irreplaceable value of the individual testimony to charity. At the gates of Amiens, Martin gave half of his cloak to a poor man : the following night, Jesus Himself appeared to him in a dream wearing that cloak, confirming the permanent validity of the Gospel saying : “ I was naked and you clothed Me… as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. ” (Mt 25.36, 40)36 »
« In the history of the Church, how many other testimonies to charity could be quoted ! In particular, the entire monastic movement, from its origins with St. Anthony the Abbot († 356), expresses an immense service of charity towards neighbour. In his encounter “ Face to face ” with the God who is Love, the monk senses the impelling need to transform his whole life into service : service of God and service of neighbour. This explains the establishment of the great hospices, hospitals and refuges in the vicinity of the monasteries. It also explains the immense initiatives of human welfare and Christian formation, aimed above all at the very poor, who became the object of care first for the monastic and mendicant orders, and later for the various male and female religious institutes all through the history of the Church. The figures of saints such as Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, John of God, Camillus of Lellis, Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Giuseppe B. Cottolengo, John Bosco, Luigi Orione, Teresa of Calcutta to name but a few – stand out as lasting models of social charity for all men of good will. The saints are the true bearers of light within history, for they are men and women of faith, hope and love.
« 41. Outstanding among the saints is Mary, Mother of the Lord and mirror of all holiness. In the Gospel of Luke we find Her engaged in a service of charity to Her cousin Elizabeth, with whom She remained for “ about three months ” (1.56) so as to assist her in the final phase of her pregnancy. »
« “ Magnificat anima mea Dominum ”, She says on the occasion of that visit, “ My soul magnifies the Lord ” (Lk 1.46). In these words She expresses Her whole programme of life : not setting Herself at the centre, but leaving space for God, who is encountered both in prayer and in service of neighbour – only then does goodness enter the world. The greatness of Mary consists in the fact that She wants to magnify God, not Herself. She is lowly : Her only desire is to be the handmaid of the Lord (cf. Lk 1.38, 48). She knows that She will only contribute to the salvation of the world if, rather than carrying out Her own projects, She places Herself completely at the disposal of the initiatives of God. Mary is a Woman of Hope. »
The Holy Father has created three neologisms in order to show in Mary the personification of the three theological virtues.
« Only because She believes in the promises of God and awaits the salvation of Israel, can the angel visit Her and call Her to the decisive service of these promises.
« Mary is a Woman of Faith : “ Blessed are You who have believed ”, Elizabeth says to Her (cf. Lk 1.45). The Magnificat – a portrait, so to speak, of Her soul – is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the Word of God. Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the Word of God ; with ease She moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the Word of God ; the Word of God becomes Her word, and Her word issues from the Word of God. Here we see how Her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how Her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the Word of God, She was able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate.
« Finally, Mary is a Woman who loves. How could it be otherwise ? As a believer who in faith thinks with the thoughts of God and wills with the will of God, She cannot fail to be a Woman who loves. We sense this in her quiet gestures, as recounted by the infancy narratives in the Gospel. We see it in the delicacy with which She recognises the need of the spouses at Cana and makes it known to Jesus. We see it in the humility with which She recedes into the background during the public life of Jesus, knowing that the Son must establish a new family and that the hour of the Mother will come only with the Cross, which will be the true hour of Jesus (cf. Jn 2.4; 13.1). When the disciples flee, Mary remains beneath the Cross (cf. Jn 19.25-27); later, at the hour of Pentecost, it will be they who gather around Her as they wait for the Holy Spirit (cf. Ac 1.14). »
And today ? Assumed into Heaven in Her womanly body, She appears to our eyes, to our minds of mortal creatures, to be enveloped in an unbearable glory that is the splendour of sanctity. Like the thrice holy Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Name of the Mother of God is surrounded by a Cloud of glory, which defends Her against all the turpitude from which our Holy Father the Pope wants to rescue us by his teaching.
« 42. The lives of the saints are not limited to their earthly biographies but also include their being and working in God after death. The lives of the saints show us that he who draws near to God does not withdraw from men, but rather becomes truly close to them. In no one do we see this more clearly than in Mary. The words addressed by the crucified Lord to His disciple – to John and through him to all disciples of Jesus : “ Behold, your Mother ” (Jn 19.27) – are fulfilled anew in every generation. »
« Woman, behold Your son » : this name of “ Woman ”, which Jesus addresses to Mary from the Cross, expresses an intimacy, a fullness of incomparable love. Jesus delights infinitely in Her and She can ask anything of Him because He can refuse Her nothing.
« Mary has truly become the Mother of all who have the Faith. Men of every time and place have recourse to Her motherly kindness and Her virginal purity and grace, in all their needs and aspirations, their joys and sorrows, whether alone or in community. They constantly experience the gift of Her goodness and the unfailing love that She pours out from the depths of Her Heart. »
This is why God wants to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who alone is able to triumph over all demons and to defeat our passions by reducing to nothing our imagining and objections because, with Her foot on the head of the Serpent, She is victorious over all heresies. Armed with this power, She descends once again from Heaven in order to return there, showing us the way that is Her Immaculate Heart.
« The testimonials of gratitude, offered to Her from every continent and culture, are a recognition of that pure love that is not self-seeking but simply benevolent. At the same time, the devotion of the faithful shows an infallible intuition of how such love is possible : it becomes so as a result of the most intimate union with God, through which the soul is totally pervaded by Him – a condition that enables Him who has drunk from the fountain of the love of God to become in his turn a fountain from which “ flow rivers of living water ” (Jn 7.38). Mary, Virgin and Mother, shows us what love is and whence it draws its origin and its constantly renewed power. To Her we entrust the Church and her mission in the service of love : »
« Holy Mary, Mother of God,
You have given the world its true light,
Jesus, Your Son – the Son of God.
You abandoned Yourself completely
to the call of God
and thus became a wellspring
of the goodness that flows forth from Him.
Show us Jesus. Lead us to Him.
Teach us to know and love Him,
so that we too can become
capable of true love
and be fountains of living water
in the midst of a thirsting world.
« Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 25 December, the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, in the year 2005, the first of our Pontificate. »
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Taken from He is Risen ! n° 43, March 2006
(11) De Trinitate, VIII, 8, 12 : CCL 50, 287 : Bibliothèque augustinienne 16, Paris (1955), p. 65.
(12) Cf. Apologie I, 67 : PG 6, 429 : Les Pères dans la foi, Paris (1982), p. 91-92.
(13) Cf. Apologeticum 39, 7 : PL 1, 468 : Les Belles Lettres, Paris (1929), p. 83.
(14) Epistle to the Romans, title : PG, 5, 801 : SCh 10, p. 108.
(15) Cf. St. Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum, II, 28, 140 : PL 16, 141.
(16) Cf. Ep. 83 : The Emperor Julian, Œuvres complètes, J. Bidez éd., Les Belles Lettres, Paris (1960), vol I, 2 a, p. 145.
(17) Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the pastoral ministry of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), n. 194 : Vatican City (2004), pp. 215-216.
(18) The City of God, IV, 4 : CCL 47, 102 : La Pléiade, Paris (2000), p. 138.
(19) Cf. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, n. 36.
(20) Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the pastoral ministry of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), n. 197 : Vatican City (2004), p. 219.
(21) John Paul II, Apostolic Exhort. Post Synodal Christifideles laici (30 December 1988), n. 42 : AAS 81 (1989), p. 472 : La Documentation catholique 86 (1989), p. 177.
(22) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life (24 November 2002), n. 1 : La Documentation catholique 100 (2003), p. 130-131.
(23) Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1939.
(24) Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam actuositatem, n. 8.
(25) Ibid., n. 14.
(26) Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the pastoral ministry of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), n. 195 : Vatican City (2004), pp. 217-218.
(27) Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhort. Post Synodal Christifideles laici (30 December1988), n. 41 : AAS 81 (1989), pp. 470-472 : La Documentation catholique 86 (1989), p. 177.
(28) Cf. n. 32; AAS 80 (1988), p. 556; La Documentation catholique 85 (1988), p. 246-247.
(29) N. 43; AAS 87 (1995), p. 946 : La Documentation catholique 92 (1995), p. 579.
(30) Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the pastoral ministry of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), n. 196 : Vatican City (2004), pp. 218-219.
(31) Cf. Pontificale Romanum, De ordinatione episcopi, n. 43 : Paris (1996), n. 40, p. 34.
(32) Cf. can. 394 : Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 203.
(33) Cf. n. 193-198 : l. c., p. 214-221.
(34) Cf. ibid., n. 194 : l. c., p. 215-216.
(35) Sermon 52, 16 : PL 38, 360.
(36) Cf. Sulpice Sévère, Life of St. Martin, 3, 1-3 : SCh 133, 256-258.< ;