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Monday, January 21, 2013


Vatican City, 19 January 2013 (VIS) – This morning Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum including the council's president, Cardinal Robert Sarah. The theme of this year's meeting is “Charity, Christian Anthropology, and Global Ethics". Following are ample excerpts from the address given by the Holy Father.

"All of Christian ethics receives its meaning from faith as an 'encounter' with Christ's love, which offers a new horizon and a decisive orientation to life. … Trusting obedience to the Gospel gives charity its typically Christian expression and constitutes its principle of discernment. Christians, especially those who work for charitable organizations, should be guided by the principles of the faith in which we can abide by 'God's point of view', by His plan for us. This new view of the world and of humanity that faith offers provides the proper criteria for evaluating charitable expressions in the current situation."

"In every age that humanity did not seek God's plan it became the victim of cultural temptations that wound up enslaving it. In recent centuries, the ideologies that celebrated a cult of nationality, of race, or of social class have proven to be idolatries. The same can be said of unbridled capitalism with its cult of profit, which has resulted in crises, inequality, and poverty. More and more today, we share a common feeling regarding the inalienable dignity of every human being and the reciprocal and interdependent responsibility toward one another and therefore to the benefit of true civilization, a civilization of love."

"On the other hand, unfortunately, our time knows shadows that obscure God's plan. I'm referring particularly to that tragic anthropological reduction that reproposes an ancient hedonistic materialism, to which, however, is added a 'technological Promethanism'. From the union between a materialistic view of humanity and the great development in technology emerges an anthropology that is atheistic at heart. It presupposes that human beings are reduced to autonomous functions: the mind to the brain, human history to a destiny of self-realization. All of this disregards God, disregards our properly spiritual dimension and our more-than-earthly horizon."

"From the perspective of a humanity deprived of its soul and therefore deprived of a personal relationship with the Creator, what is technologically possible becomes morally licit, every experiment is acceptable, every population policy is permitted, every manipulation is legitimized. The most dangerous pitfall of this line of thought is, in fact, humanity's absolutization: human beings want to be 'ab-solutus', released from every tie and every natural constitution."

Faith and healthy Christian discernment lead us, therefore, to pay prophetic attention to this ethical problematic and to the mentality underlying it. The proper collaboration with international bodies in the areas of human development and promotion shouldn’t close our eyes to these serious ideologies. The pastors of the Church … have the duty of warning faithful Catholics, as well as every person of good will and right reason, against these tendencies.”

It is, in fact, a negative tendency for humanity, even if disguised with good intentions, as a teaching of alleged progress, or alleged rights, or an alleged humanism. In the face of this anthropological reduction, what duty falls to each Christian, and particularly to you, who are engaged in charitable activity and thus have a direct relationship with many other social actors? Certainly we must exercise a critical vigilance and at times refuse funding and collaborations that, directly or indirectly, favour actions or projects that are at odds with Christian anthropology.”

Positively, however, the Church has always been committed to promoting humanity according to God’s plan, in its full dignity, in respect of its both vertical and horizontal dimension. This is also what ecclesial organizations work to develop. The Christian vision of humanity, in fact, is a great ‘yes’ to the dignity of the person, who is called to an intimate communion with God, a filial, humble, and confident communion. The human being is neither an isolated individual nor an anonymous element of a collective but rather a singular and unique person, intrinsically ordered to relationship and socialness. The Church, therefore, reaffirms its great ‘yes’ to the dignity and beauty of marriage as the expression of faithful and fruitful covenant between a man and a woman, and its ‘no’ to philosophies such as gender philosophies is based on the fact that the reciprocity between male and female is an expression of the beauty of nature willed by the Creator.”

"Faced with these critical challenges, we know that the answer is the encounter with Christ. In Him, human beings can fully realize their personal good and the common good."

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