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Friday, May 14, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 13 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. today Benedict XVI went to the Church of the Blessed Trinity, part of the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, where he met with representatives from social pastoral care organisations. Along with the Catholic groups present, other national institutions that provide care for the needy also attended the meeting.

Following a greeting from Bishop Carlos Azevedo, auxiliary of Lisbon, the Pope delivered his own address to our "dear brothers and sisters working in the vast world of charity".

He began: "Christ reveals to us that 'God is love' and at the same time teaches that the fundamental law of human perfection, and consequently of the transformation of the world, is the new commandment of love. ... History currently presents us a scenario of socio-economic, cultural and spiritual crisis which highlights the need for a discernment guided by a creative proposal of the Church's social message. The study of her social doctrine, which takes charity as its principal strength and guide, will enable a process of integral human development capable of engaging the depths of the human heart and achieving a greater humanisation of society".

"In its social and political dimension, this service of charity is the proper realm of the lay faithful, who are called to promote justice and the common good, and to configure social life correctly. ... Attracting new lay workers to this pastoral field surely calls for particular concern on the part of the Church's pastors as they look to the future. ... United to Christ in His consecration to the Father, we are seized by His compassion for the multitudes who cry out for justice and solidarity and, like the Good Samaritan in the parable, we are committed to providing concrete and generous responses.

"Often however", the Holy Father added, "it is not easy to arrive at a satisfactory synthesis between spiritual life and apostolic activity. The pressure exerted by the prevailing culture, which constantly promotes a lifestyle based on the law of the strongest, on easy and attractive gain, ends up influencing our ways of thinking, our projects and the goals of our service, and risks emptying them of the motivation of faith and Christian hope which had originally inspired them".

At the same time, "the many pressing requests we receive for support and assistance from the poor and marginalised of society impel us to look for solutions which correspond to the logic of efficiency, quantifiable effects and publicity. Nonetheless, this synthesis is absolutely necessary, dear brothers and sisters, if you are to serve Christ in the men and women who look to you".

Benedict XVI recalled how the Catholic Church is among "the many social institutions which serve the common good, and are close to those in need", and he explained how such institutions must have sound guiding principles in order to be "clearly identifiable" in "the inspiration of their aims" and "in the serious and effective management of their means".

"Beyond this issue of identity, and connected with it, it is vital to ensure that Christian charitable activity is granted autonomy and independence from politics and ideologies, even while co-operating with State agencies in the pursuit of common goals", he said.

Educational and charitable activities "must be completed by projects of freedom whose goal is human promotion and universal fraternity. Here we can locate the urgent commitment of Christians in defence of human rights, with concern for the totality of the human person in its various dimensions".

The Pope continued: "I express my deep appreciation for all those social and pastoral initiatives aimed at combating the socio-economic and cultural mechanisms which lead to abortion, and openly concerned with defending life and promoting the reconciliation and healing of those harmed by the tragedy of abortion".

"Initiatives aimed at protecting the essential and primary values of life from its conception, and of the family based on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, help to respond to some of today's most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good. Such initiatives represent, along with many other forms of commitment, essential elements in the building of the civilisation of love".

At the end of the celebration the Pope blessed the cornerstone of a new centre belonging to the Portuguese Sisters of Mercy which is being built in Fatima. He then returned to the "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo" for his meeting with the Portuguese episcopate.
PV-PORTUGAL/ VIS 20100514 (750)

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