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POPE-CHARITY Nov-13-2009 (410 words) xxxi
Charity is essential part of Christian witness, pope says
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholics must be channels of God's goodness and love, offering concrete assistance to the poor and working for justice in the world, Pope Benedict XVI said.
"Charity belongs to the very nature of the church," the pope said Nov. 13 during a meeting with members of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican office that promotes and coordinates Catholic charitable giving and distributes the money the pope designates for charity.
Pope Benedict thanked Catholics all over the world who generously give their time, their resources and their energy "to witness to the love of Christ, the Good Samaritan," who attends to those who are physically or spiritually needy.
"In proclaiming salvation, the church cannot ignore the concrete living conditions of the people to whom it is addressed," he said.
"Acting to improve those conditions concerns the very life and mission of the church because Christ's salvation is holistic and regards the human person in every dimension: physical and spiritual, social and cultural, earthly and heavenly," he said.
The church's witness to the love of Christ rightly has led Catholic individuals and organizations to commit themselves to promoting peace, development and societies that are more just and more respectful of the rights of each person, he said.
"Many faithful undertake important actions in the economic, social, legislative and cultural fields to promote the common good. They witness to the Gospel, contributing to the building of a just order in society and personally participating in public life," the pope said.
"While it certainly is not the church's role to intervene directly in the politics of a state, the Christian community cannot and must not remain on the margins of the defense of human rights and the promotion of justice," he said.
In addition, the faith of Christians in public life helps ensure that political decisions truly benefit the common good rather than the interests of a few, the pope said.
The Christian call to charity is universal because people needing concrete assistance and a word of hope are found all over the world, he said.
"As experience has demonstrated, even in the societies that are the most evolved from a social point of view, charity remains necessary," Pope Benedict said. "The service of love never is superfluous because there always are situations of suffering, solitude and need that require personal attention and concrete help."
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