Friday, May 30, 2008

Papal Address to Caritas Internationalis

"You Are Called to Spread the Love of God"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 8, 2007 ( Here is Benedict XVI's Saturday address to representatives of Caritas Internationalis, who were having their general assembly in the Vatican.

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Dear Friends,

It is a special joy for me to welcome the participants in the Eighteenth General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis. I extend particular greetings to Doctor Denis Viénot and to the President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, thanking them for their kind words a few moments ago. I also offer prayerful best wishes to the newly elected President of the Confederation, Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga. You have all come together in Rome during these days for a significant moment in the life of the Confederation, so that your member organizations can reflect, in an atmosphere of fraternal communion, on the challenges facing you at the present time. Moreover, you have taken important steps shaping your immediate future by electing the major officers of Caritas Internationalis. I am confident that your deliberations during these days have been of great benefit for you personally, for the work of your member organizations worldwide, and for all those you serve.

First of all, let me take this opportunity to thank you for the outstanding witness that your Confederation has given to the world, ever since the founding of the first national Caritas in Germany over a century ago. Since that time, there has been a great proliferation of organizations bearing the name -- on parish, diocesan and national levels -- and these have been gathered, through the initiative of the Holy See, into the Confederation Caritas Internationalis, which today numbers more than 150 national organizations. It was because of the public character of your charitable activity, rooted in the love of God, that my predecessor the Servant of God John Paul II conferred public and canonical legal personality upon Caritas Internationalis through the Pontifical Letter During the Last Supper of 16 September 2004. This status seals your organization’s ecclesial membership, giving it a specific mission within the Church. It means that your Confederation does not simply work on behalf of the Church, but is truly a part of the Church, intimately engaged in the exchange of gifts that takes place on so many levels of ecclesial life. As a sign of the Holy See’s support for your work, Caritas Internationalis has been granted its wish to be accompanied and guided by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

So what is the particular mission of your Confederation? What aspect of the Church's task falls to you and to your member organizations? You are called, by means of the charitable activity that you undertake, to assist in the Church’s mission to spread throughout the world the love of God that has been "poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Rom 5:5). The very concept of caritas draws us into the heart of Christianity, into the heart of Christ, from which "rivers of living water" flow (cf. Jn 7:38). In the work of charitable organizations like yours, we see the fruits of Christ’s love. I developed this theme in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, which I commend to you once more as a reflection on the theological significance of your action in the world. Charity has to be understood in the light of God who is caritas: God who loved the world so much that he gave his only Son (cf. Jn 3:16). In this way we come to see that love finds its greatest fulfilment in the gift of self. This is what Caritas Internationalis seeks to accomplish in the world. The heart of Caritas is the sacrificial love of Christ, and every form of individual and organized charity in the Church must always find its point of reference in him, the source of charity.

This theological vision has practical implications for the work of charitable organizations, and today I should like to single out two of them.

The first is that every act of charity should be inspired by a personal experience of faith, leading to the discovery that God is Love. The Caritas worker is called to bear witness to that love before the world. Christian charity exceeds our natural capacity for love: it is a theological virtue, as Saint Paul teaches us in his famous hymn to charity (cf. 1 Cor 13). It therefore challenges the giver to situate humanitarian assistance in the context of a personal witness of faith, which then becomes a part of the gift offered to the poor. Only when charitable activity takes the form of Christ-like self-giving does it become a gesture truly worthy of the human person created in God’s image and likeness. Lived charity fosters growth in holiness, after the example of the many servants of the poor whom the Church has raised to the dignity of the altars.

The second implication follows closely from the first. God’s love is offered to everyone, hence the Church's charity is also universal in scope, and so it has to include a commitment to social justice. Yet changing unjust structures is not of itself sufficient to guarantee the happiness of the human person. Moreover, as I affirmed recently to the Bishops gathered in Aparecida, Brazil, the task of politics "is not the immediate competence of the Church" (Address to the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, 13 May 2007). Rather, her mission is to promote the integral development of the human person. For this reason, the great challenges facing the world at the present time, such as globalization, human rights abuses, unjust social structures, cannot be confronted and overcome unless attention is focused on the deepest needs of the human person: the promotion of human dignity, well-being and, in the final analysis, eternal salvation.

I am confident that the work of Caritas Internationalis is inspired by the principles that I have just outlined. Throughout the world there are countless men and women whose hearts are filled with joy and gratitude for the service you render them. I wish to encourage each one of you to persevere in your special mission to spread the love of Christ, who came so that all may have life in abundance. Commending all of you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, I am pleased to impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Benedict XVI's Appeal to G-8 Leaders

"Let Us Hope That Serious Efforts Be Made"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 6, 2007 ( Here is the appeal Benedict XVI voiced today after the general audience to the heads of state meeting at the Group of Eight summit.

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Today in Heiligendamm, Germany, under the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Annual Summit of Heads of State and Heads of Government of the G8 -- that is, the seven most industrialized countries of the world plus the Russian Federation -- has begun. On 16 December last I had occasion to write to Chancellor Angela Merkel, thanking her, in the name of the Catholic Church, for the decision to keep the theme of world poverty on the agenda of the G8, with specific reference to Africa. Doctor Merkel kindly replied to me on 2 February last, assuring me of the G8's commitment to attaining the Millennium Development Goals. Now, I should like to make a further appeal to the leaders meeting at Heiligendamm, not to retreat from their promises to make a substantial increase in development aid in favour of the most needy populations, especially those of the African Continent.

In this regard, the second Millennium goal merits special attention: "to achieve universal primary education -- to ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015". This is an integral part of the attainment of all the other Millennium Goals: it is a guarantee of the consolidation of goals already reached; it is the starting-point for autonomous and sustainable processes of development.

It must not be forgotten that the Catholic Church has always been at the forefront in the field of education, reaching places, particularly in the poorest countries, that State structures often fail to reach. Other Christian Churches, religious groups and organizations of civil society share this educational commitment. According to the principle of subsidiarity, this reality should be recognized, valued and supported by Governments and International Organizations, among other things by the allocation of sufficient funding, so that greater efficacy may be guaranteed in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Let us hope that serious efforts be made to reach these objectives.

Pope's Address to Pakistani Ambassador

"Work Tirelessly for Peace, Justice and a Better Future"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2007 ( Here is the text of a talk Benedict XVI gave today to Ayesha Riyaz, the new ambassador to the Holy See from Pakistan, upon receiving her letters of credence.

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Your Excellency,

It gives me pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican as I accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Holy See. I would ask you to convey my greetings to His Excellency President Pervez Musharraf, and to the government and people of your nation. I am confident that the spirit of cooperation that has marked our diplomatic relations for over five decades will continue to promote the fundamental values which serve to uphold the inherent dignity of the human person. I would also ask you to extend affectionate greetings to the Catholic faithful in Pakistan and their Bishops and to assure them of my fervent prayers for their well-being.

You have rightly highlighted our common goal of fostering peace and justice in the world to secure a better future for mankind. This can only be accomplished when there is genuine cooperation between peoples, religions and nations. In this regard, the Holy See appreciates Pakistan’s commitment to work together with the international community to bring greater stability to your region and to protect innocent lives from the threats of terrorism and violence. The road to national and international security is long and difficult. It takes great patience and resolve. Notwithstanding the obstacles encountered along the way, all efforts to keep open the pathway to peace, stability and hope should be encouraged and promoted.

The people of Pakistan know only too well the suffering caused by violence and lawlessness which, as Your Excellency correctly noted, lead to destabilization. The principles of democracy assure the freedom to express political opinions publicly in a variety of ways. This right should always be exercised responsibly so that civil order is maintained and social harmony protected and fostered. I know your government is aware that the roots of political unrest and agitation within your borders must be addressed, and ways of sustaining civic and democratic institutions must be strengthened. In this way, national solidarity is enhanced, and peaceful ways of reconciling differences are encouraged.

One such step your country has taken in this direction is exemplified in your recent electoral reforms, which are aimed at facilitating the full participation of all citizens, including those belonging to minority groups. I would also like to acknowledge recent legislative decisions in Pakistan aimed at eliminating unjust forms of prejudice and discrimination against women. Pakistan has always placed a high value on education. Good schooling not only attends to the cognitive development of children, but the spiritual as well. Led by their teachers to discover the uniqueness of each human being as a creature of God, young people will come to recognize the dignity common to all men and women, including those belonging to cultures and religions different from their own. In this way, the civil life of a nation matures, making it possible for all citizens to enjoy the fruits of genuine tolerance and mutual respect.

A robust democratic society depends on its ability to uphold and protect religious freedom -- a basic right inherent in the very dignity of the human person. It is therefore essential to safeguard citizens who belong to religious minorities from acts of violence. Such protection not only accords with human dignity but also contributes to the common good. During an era in which threats against religious freedom are becoming more ominous throughout the world, I encourage Pakistan to bolster its efforts in securing freedom for people to live, worship, and perform works of charity according to the dictates of their conscience and with immunity from intimidation. There is in fact an inseparable bond linking the love and worship of Almighty God with love and service toward one’s neighbour ("Deus Caritas Est," 16). Pakistan witnessed such charity in action in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake that struck your nation in 2005, when many organizations, including the Catholic Church, helped relieve the suffering of those affected by this natural disaster. The Catholic Church continues to play an important role in providing education, health care, and other charitable services to all your citizens, regardless of religious affiliation.

I wish to conclude by expressing my deep respect and admiration for the religious heritage that has inspired the human development of your country, and continues to animate its aspirations for greater peace and mutual understanding. Christians and Muslims both worship the One God, the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. It is this belief that moves us to unite minds and hearts as we work tirelessly for peace, justice, and a better future for mankind.

Be assured that the various departments of the Roman Curia stand ready to offer their services to help achieve these noble goals. As you carry out the duties entrusted to you, I extend to Your Excellency my sincere wish that your public service will bear much fruit. Upon you, your family and your fellow citizens I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Pope's Address to Ambassador From Iceland

"Christianity Has Shaped Icelandic Culture"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2007 ( Here is the text of a talk Benedict XVI gave Friday to Larus Stefansson, the new ambassador to the Holy See from Iceland, upon receiving her letters of credence.

* * *

Your Excellency,

It is with particular pleasure that I welcome you to the Vatican and accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iceland to the Holy See. I would ask you kindly to convey to His Excellency President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, and to the government and people of your country my gratitude for their good wishes, which I warmly reciprocate, and to assure them of my prayers for the nation's spiritual well-being.

The Church's diplomatic relations form a part of her mission of service to the international community. This engagement with civil society is anchored in her conviction that the hope of building a more just world must acknowledge man's supernatural vocation. It is from God that men and women receive their essential dignity and with it the capacity and the call to direct their steps towards truth and goodness (cf. Encyclical Letter "Fides et Ratio," 5). Within this broad perspective we can counter the pragmatic tendency, so prevalent today, which tends to engage only with the symptoms of social fragmentation and moral confusion. Where humanity's transcendent dimension is brought to light, individuals' hearts and minds are drawn to God and to the very essence of human life -- truth, beauty, moral values, other persons, and being itself -- (cf. ibid., 83) leading them to a sure foundation and vision of hope for society.

As Your Excellency has observed, integral to Iceland's history is the Gospel of Jesus Christ including its missionary dimension. For over a thousand years Christianity has shaped Icelandic culture. In more recent times these spiritual roots have found a degree of resonance in your relations with Europe. This common cultural and moral identity, forged by the universal values of Christianity, is not simply of historical importance. Being foundational, it can remain as a 'ferment' of civilization. In this regard, I commend your government's open recognition of Christianity's fundamental role in the life of your nation. When public moral discernment is not emptied of meaning by a secularism which neglects truth while highlighting mere opinion, both civil and religious leaders can uphold the absolute values and ideals inherent in the dignity of every person. In this way together they can offer our young people a future of happiness and fulfilment.

Iceland's significant contribution to the security and social development of the worldwide human family belies its size and the number of its citizens. Your nation's commitment to supporting peace-keeping operations and aid projects is readily recognized by the Holy See and esteemed by the international community. While your founder member status of NATO and your long history of United Nations Organization membership are well known, perhaps less known is the highly effective work of the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit. This well-respected service is an outstanding example, from the field of international relations, of men and women enlightened by the splendour of truth, setting out on the path of peace (cf. Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace, 3). Such initiatives aptly illustrate how the will to resolve conflicts peacefully and the determination to govern by justice, integrity, and service of the common good can be achieved.

Preservation of the environment and promotion of sustainable development are increasingly seen as matters of grave concern for all. As reflections and studies on ecology mature, it becomes more and more evident that there is an inseparable link between peace with creation, and peace among people. The full understanding of this relationship is found in the natural and moral order with which God has created man and has endowed the earth (cf. Message for the 2007 World Day of Peace, 8-9).

The close connection between these two ecologies comes into sharp focus when the questions of food resources and energy supply are addressed. The international community recognizes that the world's resources are limited. Yet the duty to implement policies to prevent the destruction of that natural capital is not always observed. Any irresponsible exploitation of the environment or hoarding of land or marine resources reflect an inhumane concept of development, the consequences of which affect the poorest countries most. Iceland, acutely aware of these matters, has rightly emphasized the relationship between the Millennium Development Goals and environment protection and the sustainable use of resources, and has laudably drawn attention to the fact that the large majority of those who make their living from fisheries are families in the developing world.

Mr Ambassador, the members of the Catholic Church in your country, though few, reach out to the entire Icelandic society. Expressing the Church's belief in the "unbreakable bond between love of God and love of neighbour" ("Deus Caritas Est," 16), they undertake works of charity from their small but vibrant parish communities. A particularly beautiful example of this is found in the Carmelite convent of contemplative life in Hafnarfjordur, where the Sisters pray daily for the needs of all Icelanders.

Your Excellency, I am confident that the mission which you begin today will help to strengthen even further the cordial bonds of understanding and cooperation between Iceland and the Holy See. Please rest assured that the various offices of the Roman Curia are ready to assist you in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon you, your family and your fellow citizens I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Pope's Address Upon Proclaiming 4 Saints

"Friends of Jesus and Witnesses of His Holiness"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the homily delivered today by Benedict XVI during the canonization Mass of Father George Preca, Father Szymon of Lipnica, Father Charles of St. Andrew and Mother Marie-Eugénie of Jesus.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

After Eastertide, after having relived the event of Pentecost, which renews the Church's baptism in the Holy Spirit, we turn our gaze, so to speak, to the "opened heavens" to enter with the eyes of faith into the depths of the mystery of God, one in substance and three in persons: Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

As we allow ourselves to be caught up in this great mystery, we admire the glory of God which is reflected in the life of the saints; we contemplate it above all in those whom I have a short while ago proposed for the veneration of the universal Church: George Preca, Szymon of Lipnica, Father Charles of St. Andrew and Mother Marie Eugénie of Jesus.

To all the pilgrims who have come to pay homage to these exemplary witnesses of the Gospel, I extend my cordial greetings.

I greet, in particular, the cardinals, the presidents of the Philippines, of Ireland, of Malta and of Poland, my venerable brothers in the episcopate, the government delegations, and the other civil authorities who are taking part in this celebration.

In the first reading, taken from the Book of Proverbs, wisdom comes on the scene, standing at God's side as assistant, as "architect" (Proverbs 8:30).

The panorama of the cosmos seen with wisdom's eyes is stupendous. Wisdom confesses: "I played upon the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the human race" (8:30). Wisdom loves to dwell among men because in them she recognizes the image and likeness of the Creator.

This preferential relationship of wisdom with men makes us think of a celebrated passage in another sapiential book, the Book of Wisdom: "Wisdom," we read there, "is an aura of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing that is sullied enters into her. For she is the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness. And she, who is one, can do all things, and renews everything while herself perduring; and passing into holy souls from age to age, she produces friends of God and prophets" (Wisdom 7:25-27).

This last suggestive expression invites us to consider the manifold and inexhaustible manifestation of sanctity in the people of God through the centuries. God's wisdom is manifest in the cosmos, in variety and beauty in its elements, but its masterpieces are the saints.

In the passage from the letter of the Apostle Paul to the Romans we find a similar image: that of God's love "poured out into the hearts" of the saints, that is the baptized, "through the Holy Spirit" who has been given to them (cf. Romans 5:5). It is through Christ that the gift of the Spirit passes, "Person-Love, Person-Gift," as the Servant of God John Paul II defined him ("Dominum Vivificantem," No. 10).

Through Christ, the Spirit of God comes to us as principle of new, "holy," life. The Spirit puts the love of God in the heart of believers in the concrete form it had in the man Jesus of Nazareth. In this way what St. Paul says about "Christ in you, hope of glory" (Corinthians 1:27) is realized. The "tribulations" are not in contrast to this hope, indeed, they help to realize it through "patience" and "proven virtue" (Romans 5:3-4): It is the way of Jesus, the way of the cross.

In the same perspective, of God's wisdom incarnate in Christ and communicated by the Holy Spirit, the Gospel suggested to us that God the Father continues to manifest his plan of love through the saints. Even here there occurs what we have already noted about wisdom: The Spirit of truth reveals God's plan in the multiplicity of the elements of the cosmos and he does it above all through human persons, in a special way through saints.

In effect, "the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15) is properly only Jesus Christ, "the holy and just one" (Acts 3:14). He is wisdom incarnate, creator Logos who finds his joy in dwelling among men, in whose midst he has pitched his tent (cf. John 16:15). It pleased God to pour "every fullness" (cf. Colossians 1:19); or as he himself says in today's Gospel passage: "All that the Father has is mine" (John 16:15).

Each individual saint participates in the riches of Christ taken from the Father and communicated at the right time. It is always Jesus' own holiness, it is always him, the "holy one," whom the Spirit forms in "holy souls," making them into friends of Jesus and witnesses of his holiness.

George Preca was a friend of Jesus and a witness of the holiness that comes from him. George was born in La Valletta on the island of Malta. He was a priest wholly dedicated to evangelization: through preaching, through writing, through spiritual direction and the administering of the sacraments, and above all by the example of his life.

The phrase from John's Gospel "Verbum caro factum est" always gave direction to his soul and to his deeds, and thus the Lord was able to use him to give life to a meritorious work, "The Society of Christian Doctrine," which aimed at providing parishes with the service of qualified, well-formed and generous catechists.

A profoundly priestly and mystical soul, he overflowed with love for God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the saints. He loved to repeat: "Lord God, how much I owe you! Thank you, Lord God, and forgive me, Lord God!"

Saint George Preca, help the Church to always be, in Malta and in the world, the faithful echo of Christ, the incarnate Word.

[In Polish the Pope said:]

The new saint, Szymon of Lipnica, great son of land of Poland, witness to Christ and follower of the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi, lived long ago, but is proposed to the Church today as a relevant model of a Christian who -- animated by the spirit of the Gospel -- is ready to give his life for his brothers and sisters.

Thus, filled with mercy that he drew from the Eucharist, did not hesitate to bring aid to those struck by the plague, contracting the sickness that also brought about his own death. Today in a special way we entrust to his protection those who suffer from poverty, sickness, loneliness and social injustice. Through his intercession we ask for ourselves the grace of persevering and active love for Christ and our brother and sisters.

[In English the Holy Father said:]

"The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us." Truly, in the case of the Passionist priest, Father Charles Houben of St. Andrew, we see how that love overflowed in a life totally dedicated to the care of souls. During his many years of priestly ministry in England and Ireland, the people flocked to him to seek out his wise counsel, his compassionate care and his healing touch.

In the sick and the suffering he recognized the face of the crucified Christ, to whom he had a lifelong devotion. He drank deeply from the rivers of living water that poured forth from the side of the Pierced One, and in the power of the Spirit he bore witness before the world to the Father's love. At the funeral of this much-loved priest, affectionately known as Father Charles of Mount Argus, his superior was moved to observe: "The people have already declared him a saint."

[In French he said:]

Marie-Eugénie of Jesus calls us above all to the importance of the Eucharist in Christian life and in spiritual growth. In fact, as she herself underlined, her first Communion had been the defining moment of her life, although she didn't realize it completely then. Christ, present in the depths of her heart, was working in her, he allowed time to pass according to its own rhythm, so that she could carry out her interior quest that led her to give herself completely to the Lord in religious life, in response to the needs of her times.

She perceived in particular the importance of transmitting to the young generations, and in particular to young girls, an intellectual, moral and spiritual education that would make them into adults capable of taking charge of a family, knowing that in this way they were offering their contribution to the Church and society.

Her entire life she found the strength to carry out her mission in a life of prayer, always associating contemplation with action. May the example of St. Marie-Eugénie invite the men and women of today to transmit the values that will help the youth to become strong adults and joyous witnesses of the Resurrection.

May young people not be afraid to accept these moral and spiritual values, and to live them with patience and fidelity. In this way they will construct their personalities and prepare themselves for their future.

[In Italian the Pope said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, let us give thanks to God for the marvels that he has accomplished in the saints in whom his glory shines forth. Let us be drawn by their examples, guided by their teachings, so that our entire existence becomes, like theirs, a song of praise to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.

May Mary, the Queen of Saints, and the intercession of these four new "older brothers and sister," whom we venerate with joy today, obtain this grace for us. Amen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Communicating Christ's Love"

Canada's Bishops on 40 Years of Solidarity
"Communicating Christ's Love"

OTTAWA, JUNE 2, 2007 ( Here is the pastoral message issued by the Canadian bishops' conference on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

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Communicating Christ's Love Through the Mission of Development and Peace

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

None of us may ever know the full international impact that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has made. Nor will any of us likely ever know the ways in which 40 years of this labor have assisted families and communities in some of the most impoverished areas of the world. These achievements reflect something tangible about the reality of faith working through love, and ultimately God's astonishing desire to use the human person as an instrument of his peace.

In 1967, Pope Paul VI recognized that "extreme disparity between nations in economic, social and educational levels provokes jealousy and discord, often putting peace in jeopardy."[1] This is why he affirmed that development is the new name for peace. Peace on earth is founded on justice, solidarity and unwavering respect for the dignity of human life at every stage, in every condition, in relation to the common good.

1. The Prophetic Call to a Civilization of Love

This call of Paul VI moved the Catholic bishops of Canada to create the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace in 1967, with its twofold role to provide development assistance in the global South as well to educate and sensitize Canadian Catholics about peace and justice issues. In their subsequent pastoral letter to mark this achievement, the bishops of Canada insisted the new organization was not to take account of "the religious belief or ideologies of the people to whom aid is given. The only consideration will be the intrinsic value of the projects, their conformity with criteria of priority, and the evaluation of their human and social effectiveness. We are convinced that we who dare to call ourselves [Christ's] disciples must share his universal love and compassion, embracing generously the sacrifices that love entails."[2]

The bishops of Canada called for a joint effort "for the creation of a renewed humanity."[3] The goal is to build a world where men and women "can live truly human lives, free from discrimination on account of race, religion or nationality, free from servitude ... or ... natural forces which they cannot yet control satisfactorily."[4] Thus, the mandate of Development and Peace is totally consistent with the appeal of Paul VI and Pope John Paul II to build a "civilization of love."

2. Witness to Love in Action

Through its many activities, Development and Peace is an effective means for the Catholic Church in Canada to express its preferential love for the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed. Today, in communion with the universal Church and in fidelity to the Gospel, the Catholics of our country affirm with renewed determination their declaration of loving service in the work of Development and Peace.

This commitment is a living manifestation of the intimate love that God bears for the human family. For this reason, it can never be reduced to solely technical service. A few years before he died, John Paul II wrote: "In Christ, God has truly assumed a 'heart of flesh.' Not only does God have a divine heart, rich in mercy and in forgiveness, but also a human heart, capable of all the stirrings of affection."[5]

Over the past 40 years, Development and Peace has rendered an extraordinary service to the impoverished people of the global South. It has provided $500 million to support 14,665 projects and programs in 70 countries of the South. Of this amount, $120 million was allocated as emergency aid in response to natural disasters or to assist refugees in the wake of wars and civil disturbances.

One example: Following the tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia in 2004, Development and Peace entered into partnerships with communities throughout the region to build thousands of new homes. Overall, the projects Development and Peace has supported in developing countries include peace-building and civic education programs, community development, fostering the social economy, improving agricultural production, promoting human rights, providing education, and campaigning against destructive policies such as the patenting of seeds and the privatization of water.

None of this work would have been possible without the solidarity and generosity of Catholics in Canada -- their donations, time, prayers and commitment. Such solidarity affirms the dignity of the human person who is suffering because of natural disasters and the depredations of war, famine and poverty. The bishops of Canada express their esteem and gratitude to all people of good will who have faithfully supported Development and Peace since its creation in 1967.

3. A Globalization of Solidarity

The challenges of development are many and they remain daunting. Our age continues to witness the humiliation and marginalization of vast numbers of people -- people loved by God and created in the divine image, but spurned and excluded by society. As John Paul II insisted in "Ecclesia in America," the world is faced with the reality of "social sins which cry to heaven" for justice: the drug trade, the recycling of illicit funds, corruption at every level, the terror of violence, the arms race, racial discrimination, inequality between social groups and the irrational destruction of nature.[6] "These sins are the sign of a deep crisis caused by the loss of a sense of God and the absence of those moral principles which should guide the life of every person. In the absence of moral points of reference, an unbridled greed for wealth and power takes over, obscuring any Gospel-based vision of social reality."[7]

There are "profound links ... between evangelization and human promotion" because the human person "is subject to social and economic questions."[8] The "Gospel-based vision of social reality" is by definition a sign of contradiction against neo-liberalism and its "purely economic conception" of the human person.[9] Christ laid down his life as a sacrifice for all, to win the authentic freedom of the human family and each of its members.

For this reason, as Benedict XVI has taught, "the relationship between the eucharistic mystery and social commitment must be made explicit."[10] Catholics are thus called to "a globalization of solidarity in the name of the inalienable dignity of the human person, above all when defenseless people are struck by natural catastrophes, laid low by the indiscriminate machinery of war and economic exploitation, and confined to refugee camps."[11]

The Christian vocation is to share in the life of God and to build a community that promotes the Gospel of life. The work of Development and Peace flows from this vocation. The forces and systems that conspire against human dignity cannot have the last word, because of the definitive reality of Christ's work of salvation.

From this it is clear that the role of Development and Peace cannot be strictly analogous to the work of secular organizations. Through Development and Peace, Catholics are challenged to give not just out of their surplus but out of their substance. This is the challenge of the Gospel: "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on" (Mark 12.43-44).

As we journey together as the People of God, our challenge is to live an ever deeper communion and dialogue with communities in their moments of greatest hardship and vulnerability. Thus, it is not "ideologies aimed at improving the world" and their necessarily contingent theories that motivate Development and Peace, but the resolute promise of the beatitudes. It is only in this way that the work of social justice is in fact effective and substantively just, because it refuses to marginalize the vulnerable and the stranger.

Instead, Development and Peace helps the Church in Canada to grow in love. In the words of our Holy Father, Benedict XVI: "Accepting [Christ's] love ... is not enough. We need to respond to such love and devote ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ 'draws me to himself' in order to unite himself to me," and so we learn to love our brothers and sisters with the love of Christ.[12]

Since 1967, there have been substantial advances in a growing social awareness on the part of many people. Today there seems to be a richer dialogue of human rights, a continuing restlessness for justice and equality. Nevertheless, one must be candid in recognizing that the past 40 years have not delivered any radical change -- the poor are more numerous, and their conditions of life more intolerable. This situation continues to call for renewed commitment to seek a more just social order through concrete initiatives such as those of Development and Peace. The social challenges of justice and peace can never be kept at arm's length from one's life as a Christian.

Faith demands the gift of one's whole being through works of love, as so well stated by Benedict XVI: "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."[13]

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace must continue to grow and to flourish. It is a significant means by which the Church in Canada touches the lives of our sisters and brothers in humanity. Clearly, the Lord recognizes himself in the poor: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink" (Matthew 25.35). May the Lord advance the work of Development and Peace as a manifestation of divine love. May Catholics continue to receive and share this love with everyone in need.

André Gaumond
Archbishop of Sherbrooke
President Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
Fifth Sunday of Easter, 6 May 2007

[1] Paul VI, "Populorum Progressio," No. 76.
[2] Joint Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of Canada on Development and Peace, March 14, 1968, p. 5.

[3] Joint Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of Canada on Development and Peace, p. 3.
[4] Paul VI, "Populorum Progressio," No. 47.

[5] John Paul II, "Rosarium Virginis Mariae," No. 26.
[6] John Paul II, "Ecclesia in America," No. 56 (citing Proposition 70).

[7] John Paul II, "Ecclesia in America," No. 56.
[8] Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 66.

[9] John Paul II, "Ecclesia in America," No. 56.
[10] Benedict XVI, "Sacramentum Caritatis," No. 89.

[11] The Eucharist: God's Gift for the Life of the World: Foundational Theological Document for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, 2008, p. 59.
[12] Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2007.

[13] Benedict XVI, "Deus Caritas Est," No. 34.

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