Pope says charity work has higher purpose
Citing the example of Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II has said the Church's humanitarian efforts should be motivated by a "lively and evangelical faith".
He was speaking on Friday with members of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, who were holding their plenary meeting in Rome.
He stressed that bearing witness to the "tender, merciful" Christ is ultimately more important than charity work alone.
"The Church does not limit herself simply to satisfying the material needs of people in need," he said. "She does not hesitate to bear witness - with pastoral prudence - to Christ, who reveals the face of God the Father."
Cor Unum issued a statement warning that some "humanitarian organisations and governments of the so-called 'First World'" would prefer to consign religious faith to a purely secondary role, less important than economic development.
Cor Unum, regarded as the Pope's own charitable agency, was founded by Pope Paul VI in 1971 to express "the care of the Catholic Church for the needy, thereby encouraging human fellowship and making manifest the charity of Christ."
Faith means more than charitable activity (Catholic World News 21/11/03)
Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"
Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" (catholic-hierarchy.org)
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24 Nov 2003