Deus Caritas Est, First Encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, God is love, Caritas, agape. Deus Caritas Est, God is Love, December 25, INTRODUCTION. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, encapsulates in a single phrase what he calls the. Deus Caritas Est — God is love. Benedict XVI's first Encyclical Letter. Love of God and love of neighbour are inseparable. “As you did it to one.

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DEUS CARITAS EST – POPE BENEDICT XVI. 1. Historical Context. Perhaps no Pope in history has come to the office as well known to the Catholic public as. ACTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS LOVE NEVER FAILS Perspectives 10 years after the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est ACTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL. Romanus Cessario, O.P. / Saint John's Seminary, Boston. In the United States and Australia, the Encyclical Letter Deus caritas est enjoyed a.

Pope Benedict looks at the place of love in the Church and focuses on eros sexual love , agape God's love for humankind and logos the Word - all in the context of Christ and His sacrifice for us. These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: In the same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: We have come to believe in God's love: Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words: In acknowledging the centrality of love, Christian faith has retained the core of Israel's faith, while at the same time giving it new depth and breadth.

In fact, it is challenged by practice. DCE Indeed, The Pope mentions as the second collaborate in these experiences and view on the historical roots of ecclesial charitable intervention should include feature the response to immediate to this culture of love.

This eros was tice charity with professional compe- evangelization within our structures, draw on the historical tradition of the present already in the biblical pas- tence and training DCE 31a. At the in full respect of individual freedom, Church, thereby keeping alive the rich sages describing a God who loves his same time, the document underlines yet always proposing who we are and tradition of charitable practice.

This people DCE 11 , profoundly moved. However, more than world crises.

Interestingly, in the early the side of the road that went down sonal growth and to grow in the faith, a simple historical memory, the Saints 20th century, with the re-establishment from Jerusalem to Jericho.

In Jesus Christ, this divine God in Christ, which enables them to their life, whence low sources of inspi- marked by dawning industrialization love becomes oblative love. This ofer- witness the love of God in those re- ration, whence lasting organisms are and welfare state, one of the program- ing is celebrated and is present in the lationships of service in an authentic created, renewed charismas, such as matic pillars of the new discipline was Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis. The way, thus neither imposed nor artii- the Society of Saint Vincenzo de Paoli, research on the historical heritage of Eucharistic transformation leads to the cial.

The formation of the heart should whose charitable family dates back to Christian charitable tradition, notably mission of charitable intervention un- not be understood as a communica- the seventeenth century. The dif- in the various confessions and it reaf- dom in independent charitable acti- stood as epistemological principle. Doctrine, and the obligations of State I shall hereby detail the distinctive el- temological capacity ad intra for the The Pope invites to this ecumenical and the political realm.

In mains above all the service of charity In this conceptual chart the theology in biblical expression and experience, this regard, shared research projects, in the community of love as opus pro- of charity is meant to facilitate the the- as well as in Christian charitable activ- conferences, concrete collaboration at prium, with its speciic characteristics ological foundation of the practice of ity, which, at the same time, respond to local level, and international coopera- as seen in the previous chapters.

In my charity in truth, starting from the reve- an integral anthropological vision. The central theological disciplinary nature of the theology of 4.

The theology of charity as a distin- cated environment for relection, rese- contributions to this ministry system- charity, which is not limited only to as- ctive theological science arch, training and orientation, so that atic theology and philosophy further pects of theological rootedness: This point of arrival is the analysis of con- Benedict XVI, and the present one of gagement may: Traduzione italiana: Dal Toso, H.

Demel, L. Wirklichkeit und Zukunfts- Glatzel N. Zum Spannungsfeld and healing , pp. Las nuevas formas de la Haslinger H. Psychology, Pedagogy, Social Services, etc. Grundlagen , Ratzinger Studien Vol. Gesammelte Werke Vol. III, Regensburg, Dal Toso G. Jeanrond W. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York, Benedikts XVI. Deus caritas est, Paderborn, Pompey H. Nothelle — Wildfeuer U. Lahtinen, T.

Pohjolainen, T. Readings on the in- K. Lahti, , pp. Hoping Eds. Kom- 95, , Schallenberg P. Die Anthropolo- , Theologie und Sozialer Arbeit. Hand- Pompey H. Dt —a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.

We can now determine more precisely, in the life of the Church, the relationship between commitment to the just ordering of the State and society on the one hand, and organized charitable activity on the other.

We have seen that the formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason. The Church has an indirect duty here, in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor prove effective in the long run.

The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity.

The Church can never be exempted from practising charity as an organized activity of believers, and on the other hand, there will never be a situation where the charity of each individual Christian is unnecessary, because in addition to justice man needs, and will always need, love. The multiple structures of charitable service in the social context of the present day Before attempting to define the specific profile of the Church's activities in the service of man, I now wish to consider the overall situation of the struggle for justice and love in the world of today.

Despite the great advances made in science and technology, each day we see how much suffering there is in the world on account of different kinds of poverty, both material and spiritual. Our times call for a new readiness to assist our neighbours in need. Concern for our neighbour transcends the confines of national communities and has increasingly broadened its horizon to the whole world.

The solidarity shown by civil society thus significantly surpasses that shown by individuals. Church agencies, with their transparent operation and their faithfulness to the duty of witnessing to love, are able to give a Christian quality to the civil agencies too, favouring a mutual coordination that can only redound to the effectiveness of charitable service. Significantly, our time has also seen the growth and spread of different kinds of volunteer work, which assume responsibility for providing a variety of services.

For young people, this widespread involvement constitutes a school of life which offers them a formation in solidarity and in readiness to offer others not simply material aid but their very selves. Lk et passim for others.

In the Catholic Church, and also in the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, new forms of charitable activity have arisen, while other, older ones have taken on new life and energy. In these new forms, it is often possible to establish a fruitful link between evangelization and works of charity. Here I would clearly reaffirm what my great predecessor John Paul II wrote in his Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis [28] when he asserted the readiness of the Catholic Church to cooperate with the charitable agencies of these Churches and Communities, since we all have the same fundamental motivation and look towards the same goal: a true humanism, which acknowledges that man is made in the image of God and wants to help him to live in a way consonant with that dignity.

The distinctiveness of the Church's charitable activity The increase in diversified organizations engaged in meeting various human needs is ultimately due to the fact that the command of love of neighbour is inscribed by the Creator in man's very nature.

It is also a result of the presence of Christianity in the world, since Christianity constantly revives and acts out this imperative, so often profoundly obscured in the course of time. The reform of paganism attempted by the emperor Julian the Apostate is only an initial example of this effect; here we see how the power of Christianity spread well beyond the frontiers of the Christian faith. For this reason, it is very important that the Church's charitable activity maintains all of its splendour and does not become just another form of social assistance.

So what are the essential elements of Christian and ecclesial charity?

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The Church's charitable organizations, beginning with those of Caritas at diocesan, national and international levels , ought to do everything in their power to provide the resources and above all the personnel needed for this work. Individuals who care for those in need must first be professionally competent: they should be properly trained in what to do and how to do it, and committed to continuing care.

Yet, while professional competence is a primary, fundamental requirement, it is not of itself sufficient. We are dealing with human beings, and human beings always need something more than technically proper care.

They need humanity. They need heartfelt concern. Those who work for the Church's charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of their humanity. As a result, love of neighbour will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love cf.

Gal It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and it is not at the service of worldly stratagems, but it is a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs.

The modern age, particularly from the nineteenth century on, has been dominated by various versions of a philosophy of progress whose most radical form is Marxism. Part of Marxist strategy is the theory of impoverishment: in a situation of unjust power, it is claimed, anyone who engages in charitable initiatives is actually serving that unjust system, making it appear at least to some extent tolerable.

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This in turn slows down a potential revolution and thus blocks the struggle for a better world. Seen in this way, charity is rejected and attacked as a means of preserving the status quo.

What we have here, though, is really an inhuman philosophy. People of the present are sacrificed to the moloch of the future—a future whose effective realization is at best doubtful.

One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here and now. We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good now, with full commitment and wherever we have the opportunity, independently of partisan strategies and programmes.

This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly.

Obviously when charitable activity is carried out by the Church as a communitarian initiative, the spontaneity of individuals must be combined with planning, foresight and cooperation with other similar institutions. Love is free; it is not practised as a way of achieving other ends. For it is always concerned with the whole man. Often the deepest cause of suffering is the very absence of God.

Those who practise charity in the Church's name will never seek to impose the Church's faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak. He knows that God is love cf. He knows—to return to the questions raised earlier—that disdain for love is disdain for God and man alike; it is an attempt to do without God.

Consequently, the best defence of God and man consists precisely in love. It is the responsibility of the Church's charitable organizations to reinforce this awareness in their members, so that by their activity—as well as their words, their silence, their example—they may be credible witnesses to Christ.

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity Finally, we must turn our attention once again to those who are responsible for carrying out the Church's charitable activity. As our preceding reflections have made clear, the true subject of the various Catholic organizations that carry out a ministry of charity is the Church herself—at all levels, from the parishes, through the particular Churches, to the universal Church. For this reason it was most opportune that my venerable predecessor Paul VI established the Pontifical Council Cor Unum as the agency of the Holy See responsible for orienting and coordinating the organizations and charitable activities promoted by the Catholic Church.

In conformity with the episcopal structure of the Church, the Bishops, as successors of the Apostles, are charged with primary responsibility for carrying out in the particular Churches the programme set forth in the Acts of the Apostles cf.

In the rite of episcopal ordination, prior to the act of consecration itself, the candidate must respond to several questions which express the essential elements of his office and recall the duties of his future ministry. He promises expressly to be, in the Lord's name, welcoming and merciful to the poor and to all those in need of consolation and assistance. With regard to the personnel who carry out the Church's charitable activity on the practical level, the essential has already been said: they must not be inspired by ideologies aimed at improving the world, but should rather be guided by the faith which works through love cf.

Consequently, more than anything, they must be persons moved by Christ's love, persons whose hearts Christ has conquered with his love, awakening within them a love of neighbour.

The consciousness that, in Christ, God has given himself for us, even unto death, must inspire us to live no longer for ourselves but for him, and, with him, for others. Whoever loves Christ loves the Church, and desires the Church to be increasingly the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ. The personnel of every Catholic charitable organization want to work with the Church and therefore with the Bishop, so that the love of God can spread throughout the world.

By their sharing in the Church's practice of love, they wish to be witnesses of God and of Christ, and they wish for this very reason freely to do good to all.

Interior openness to the Catholic dimension of the Church cannot fail to dispose charity workers to work in harmony with other organizations in serving various forms of need, but in a way that respects what is distinctive about the service which Christ requested of his disciples. Saint Paul, in his hymn to charity cf. This hymn must be the Magna Carta of all ecclesial service; it sums up all the reflections on love which I have offered throughout this Encyclical Letter.

Practical activity will always be insufficient, unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a love nourished by an encounter with Christ. My deep personal sharing in the needs and sufferings of others becomes a sharing of my very self with them: if my gift is not to prove a source of humiliation, I must give to others not only something that is my own, but my very self; I must be personally present in my gift.

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This proper way of serving others also leads to humility. The one who serves does not consider himself superior to the one served, however miserable his situation at the moment may be. Christ took the lowest place in the world—the Cross—and by this radical humility he redeemed us and constantly comes to our aid.

Those who are in a position to help others will realize that in doing so they themselves receive help; being able to help others is no merit or achievement of their own. This duty is a grace. We recognize that we are not acting on the basis of any superiority or greater personal efficiency, but because the Lord has graciously enabled us to do so. There are times when the burden of need and our own limitations might tempt us to become discouraged.

But precisely then we are helped by the knowledge that, in the end, we are only instruments in the Lord's hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world. In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord.

It is God who governs the world, not we. In short, eros and agape somehow need to be connected to each other. Indeed, the more the two find the correct equilibrium in their different dimensions, the more the true nature of love is realized. Even if eros is at first mainly desire, in drawing near to the other person it becomes less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, bestows itself and wants to "be there for" the other.

It is then that the element of agape enters into this love. In Jesus Christ, who is the incarnate love of God, the eros - agape reaches its most radical form. In dying on the Cross, by giving himself in order to raise and save man, Jesus expresses love in its most sublime form. He guaranteed an enduring presence of this oblative act through the institution of the Eucharist, in which he gives himself under the species of bread and wine as a new manna that unites us with him.

Summary of Deus Caritas Est

By participating in the Eucharist, we too are involved in the dynamic of his self-giving. We are united with him and, at the same time, with all others to whom he gives himself; thus, we all become "one body". In this way, love of neighbour and love of God are truly united.

The double Commandment, thanks to this encounter with the agape of God, is no longer solely a precept: Love of neighbour, grounded in love of God, as well as being a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, is also a responsibility for the entire Ecclesial Community, which must reflect Trinitarian love in its charitable activity.

Awareness of this responsibility also had a constitutive relevance in the Church from the very beginning cf. Acts 2: Thus, the "diaconate" came into being in the fundamental structure of the Church as a ministry of love of neighbour exercised in a communitarian and orderly way — a concrete but at the same time spiritual service cf.

Acts 6: As the Church gradually spread, this practice of charity was confirmed as one of her essential responsibilities. The Church's deepest nature is thus expressed in her three-fold duty: These duties presuppose one another and are inseparable.

Since the 19th century, a fundamental objection has been raised to the Church's charitable activity. People claim that it is contrary to justice and will end by becoming a means of preserving the status quo.

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