ROME, Italy, July 15, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic charitable efforts must go beyond the “search for justice” and be integrally connected to the proclamation of the Gospel, says Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which oversees the Church’s charitable institutions.
“Proclaiming the Gospel, which is not proselytism, is an integral part of charitable activity,” the cardinal wrote in a Friday article for L’Osservatore Romano marking the 40th anniversary of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. “The witness to charity finds its measure in Christ. The search for justice does not fulfill the task of charity.”
Cor Unum’s activities are concerned with “conveying this inspiration to evangelize towards all of the Church’s pastoral works of charity,” he said.
Cardinal Sarah has been at the forefront of a major effort by the Vatican to renew the Catholic identity of the Church’s development agencies amidst scandals over the funding of questionable groups by the agencies in numerous countries, including Canada, America, Britain, France, and Austria.
According to the cardinal, when on July 15th, 1971 Pope Paul VI instituted Cor Unum, he already saw the need to affirm this evangelical witness as a response to “some of the misunderstandings that undermined the proper understanding of charity within the Church and that would unfortunately be confirmed in time.”
He explained that Cor Unum was founded in a “moment of doubt, when the nature of Christian witness in the world was being questioned.” At that trying time, he says, the Church risked a rift that could have “conceal[ed] the evangelical witness and missionary zeal for a limitless exaltation of earthly realities.”
Cardinal Sarah points out that Bl. John Paul II had reemphasized the importance of evangelization to the Church’s development efforts in his very first meeting with Cor Unum as pope in November 1978. “We must also take care to set advancement carefully in the context of evangelization, which is the fullness of human advancement, since it proclaims and offers man’s full salvation,” the late pope said.
This emphasis on proclaiming the Gospel has been carried on by Pope Benedict XVI, he said, who understands “that the absence of God is the most dramatic problem that torments and weakens modern culture.”