Pope says spirituality fundamental to fight against poverty

In his message for Lent released yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI has said that the primary contribution the Church can make to the eradication of the scandal of poverty is not material or technical, but spiritual, through the "proclamation of the truth of Christ".

Catholic World News reports that he said this proclamation involves an education of consciences and teaches the authentic dignity of the person and of work. It means the promotion of a culture that truly responds to all the questions of humanity.

"Even in this era of global interdependence," the Holy Father said, "it is clear that no economic, social, or political project can replace that gift of self to another through which charity is expressed." The Church encourages prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to help the needs of the poor, with a constant attention to the greatest needs of those who suffer. And the greatest need, he observes, is "to find God in the merciful face of Christ."

The Pope's Lenten message is a meditation on a verse from St. Matthew's Gospel (9:36): Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity." The full text of the papal message is available on the Vatican web site (see link below).

Initiatives undertaken by Christian individuals and organisations to ease poverty help to show a "genuine humanitarian concern" that flows from the acceptance of the Gospel message, the Pope writes. The Church also seeks to help the poor in a systematic way, by asking "political leaders and those with economic and financial power to promote development based on respect for the dignity of every man and woman." In keeping with the theme of his Lenten message-- that the greatest need for all people is to know Christ-- the Pope observes that one key test of a political system is its attitude toward religious freedom.

In any political involvement, however, the Church must be careful to remember the primary goal, the Pope writes. He acknowledges that mistakes have often occurred when Church leadrs "have thought that they should first improve this world and only afterwards turn their minds to the next." This error, he warns, has led to "a kind of moralism: 'believing' was replaced with 'doing.'"

"In our heavily secularised world, a gradual secularization fo salvation has taken pace," Pope Benedict observes. The Church must guard against this purely material attitude, because "Jesus came to bring integral salvation."

For all believers, the Pope writes, the season of Lent is the time for an "interior pilgrimage," in which the faithful draw closer to Christ, recognizing him as the source of mercy.

Pope stresses spiritual development in Lenten message (Catholic World News 31/1/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for Lent 2006

Papal Message for Lent 2006 (Vatican Information Service 31/2/06)
Pope likely to visit Turkey in November (Reuters 29/1/06)
The Apostolic Exhortation, postponed. Changes coming? (Catholic Outsider 30/1/06)
Pope's Lenten message: Not about politics but about "true humanism" (Catholic Outsider 31/2/06)
Indifference to poor, self-centered isolation stand in marked contrast to 'gaze of Christ', says Pope (Catholic News Agency 31/2/06)
Saints made lives a hymn to the God of love, says Pope (catholicireland.net 31/2/06)
Pope Reportedly to Visit United States in May or October 2007 (Lifesite.net 31/2/06)
Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for Lent 2006
To the Prelate Aditors, Officials and Advocates of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota (Italian - 28/1/06)
Annulment Process Must Serve the Truth, Says Pope (Zenit 30/1/06)
Courts Are About Charity Too, Says Rota Dean (Zenit 30/1/06)
Benedict XVI Wary of "Reproductive Health" Policies (Zenit 30/1/06)

1 Feb 2006