Catholic charitable works cannot preclude evangelisation: top Vatican Justice and Peace official
ROME, May 27, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Catholic aid umbrella organisation, Caritas Internationalis, continues to feel the heat from the Vatican for what many have identified as its shift away from its roots in authentic Catholic moral and social teaching, and towards a leftist political advocacy model.
In his address to the 19th General Assembly of Caritas, Peter Cardinal Turkson, the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, warned the Caritas officials again that their duty is to conform their activities to Catholic teaching.
Quoting Pope Benedict’s encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est, Cardinal Turkson warned in his opening remarks, “There may well be danger of ‘a certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling effect of power and special interests’.”
The shift in direction of Catholic charitable organisations from concrete physical and spiritual works of mercy, to “advocacy”, Cardinal Turkson said, is one of the main challenges facing Caritas and its member groups.
In doing charitable work, he said, “No one is allowed …to appropriate the Church’s authority for his opinion.” Quoting Pope Benedict again, he said, charitable advocacy in a Catholic context “is not a means of changing the world ideologically.”
In the doing of charitable works, he said, real love, not mere professionalism, is required, and this love cannot preclude the possibility of true evangelisation.
The cardinal warned against “excessive professionalism,” and identified as one of the principal “challenges” to address, “proselytism in two senses: one, an abuse of the gratuitous charity we are called to offer; the other, an excessive caution about proselytism which would block legitimate and necessary evangelization.”
“The power of the Gospel calls us to be professional in every action, but it also expects us to be motivated by faith and values when we offer this service in the name of Jesus and of His Church.”
“Legitimate evangelization is not to be caricatured as proselytism,” he said. “The task before us is to re-establish the ‘link between evangelization and charity. The Church’s charity is not directed solely at social progress, but wants to draw man toward God, the source of all good’.”
Cardinal Turkson pointed to Pope Benedict’s definition of the first goal of Christian charity as the effort to meet the concrete material and spiritual needs of others: “Christian charity is first of all the simple response to immediate needs and specific situations: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for and healing the sick, visiting those in prison, etc.”
Cardinal Turkson reiterated Pope Benedict’s statement that Caritas would from now on be more closely monitored by ecclesiastical authorities: “The very legitimate activity of Caritas Internationalis in terms of advocacy unfolds within the policies and directives of the Holy See, at the international level, and of the local Episcopal Conference and local Bishops, on the national level.”
There have been many complaints in recent years about Catholic charities closely associating with and funding ideologically and politically leftist groups holding views strongly at odds with fundamental Catholic beliefs.