VATICAN, Feb. 26, 2016– Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has stressed that charity is to be done from the heart, never out of obligation nor with a superior attitude.
Speaking at an international congress recalling Pope Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est in the New Synod Hall of the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall this morning, the Filippino cardinal, who is leader of Caritas Internationalis, emphasized how the encyclical taught this.
“So on the one hand, we are invited to rediscover the wealth of teaching contained in the encyclical,” he said, but, “On the other hand, we are reminded that we are reading it within the concrete realities of 2016, ten years after.”
The encyclical, the cardinal highlighted, can definitely shed much light on our contemporary situation.
But at same time, the world and its events, can affirm, challenge, can expand the encyclical’s legacy, he noted, adding that the Jubilee Year of Mercy will also provide ample opportunity to reflect upon it.
“And from this perspective, and from that of Caritas Internationalis, and other charity service organizations,” he noted, “I would like to discuss the ongoing relevance of Deus Caritas Est for the Church’s ongoing service of charity.”
He then commented on some specific points, turning first to Caritas Internationalis. He noted how he was elected president just last May and joked, “You can see how innocent I am.”
To illustrate, he reflected that last May, Caritas approved the strategic orientations that must guide the service of charity over the next four years: 1st, “Caritas at the heart of the Church. Uphold the Catholic Identity of Caritas which is at the essential service of the Church to the poor” ; 2nd, “Save lives, rebuild communities, reduce the impact of humanitarian crises by enhancing disaster preparedness and response”; 3rd, “Promote sustainable, integral, human development” ; 4th, “Build global solidarity and address the causes of extreme poverty through reinforced communication, education, and mobilization, and enhance the visibility of Caritas” ; 5th, “Make the caritas federation more effective…”
“How?” he asked. By building “a stronger confederation based on professional and effective methods, guide them by the formation of the heart, and mobilize more resources.”
These five orientations, and the way they were created, he observed, carry the mark of Deus Caritas Est, and he noted that at the same time these orientations open paths not explicitly contained in the encyclical.
“Through Caritas, we hope to continue this process, and hopefully we’ll rediscover the continuing relevance of the Church’s service of charity.”
Charity is part of the Church’s nature, he said, recalling that Pope Benedict said in number 25 of the encyclical: “So the service of charity is not just a welfare activity as far as the Church is concerned. It is a manifestation of the Church’s identity as a community of love.”
“So,” Cardinal Tagle said, “in the Church’s charitable organizations, not just Caritas, but all the others, the Church acts as a subject, with direct responsibility. It is not just a cooperation. It is the Church acting with full responsibility.”
Some of the other points Cardinal Tagle made were that those who work in this realm need both professional competence, but also “training of heart,” and noted how these qualities are complements, and not to be pitted one against the other.
He also lamented when a Church has a separate office of charities, because he stressed this is part of its mission and is to be part of its identity just as liturgy and the sacraments are.
In addition, he criticized those who do charitable works, but with an attitude of superiority and self righteousness, looking down at those they are serving.
Instead, those serving, Cardinal Tagle declared, are never to hold their noses up in the air, but rather to serve as one who understands poverty and seeks to share in the suffering’s joys and sorrows, like a brother or sister. (Deborah Castellano Lubov/Zenit)