From the remarkable address of Cardinal Robert Sarah (pdf), President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", to the General Assembly of Caritas International (the international federation that includes, among many others, American affiliate Catholic Charities, British affiliate CAFOD, and French affiliate Secours Catholique - see previous post), now taking place in Rome:
For Pope Benedict XVI, the imperative and practice of charity, love of one’s neighbour, are vitally important. The Church cannot renounce her proclamation, even though nowadays, at least in the Western world, a humanism without God seems to have become an integral and lasting part of the prevailing culture. ... This particularly concerns the nations of what is called the First World, where economic wellbeing and the rush to consume inspire and nourish a life lived “as if God didn't exist”. Currently, faced with the serious problems of life, religious indifference and the total lack of meaning that is attributed to God are no less worrying nor deleterious than overt atheism. Together with enormous material, scientific and technological progress, the West is now experiencing a serious moral regression and a gradual “silent apostasy” (cf. Christifideles Laici, no. 34). Undoubtedly, since the beginning of his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI has considered this “religious indifference” and “silent apostasy” as the major challenge the Church has to take up today in her relations with the modern world. Therefore, he is more determined than ever to make our minds more aware and our faith more visible and more active, in order to show the world that the Church’s mission is deeply rooted in faith in God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. [Image: Pope Pius XII and the founding members of Caritas International, 1951.]
The same is also undoubtedly true for diakonia. Indeed, together with proclamation of the Faith and the liturgy, diakonia fulfils the Church’s mission. ...
This being so, we might wonder how we can ensure that the salt of Charity of so many faithful lay people, and consecrated people and their religious families, doesn’t lose its flavour. How can we help faithful lay people and religious, who run charitable organisations or charity institutions that have proved their robustness over the years, to experience a new docility in the wind of Pentecost, and move from works of law to works of faith? ...If the world we live in really is the place of the Gospel, then serving human development not only doesn’t go against the worship of God, but also prepares it and is an authentic and necessary expression of it. All those calling themselves disciples of Christ won’t find a neutral space in the work of serving other people, or even less a hindrance to this unique Love, but rather will be able to see within it a concrete fulfilment of their personal encounter with Jesus, and the spread of their faith and love for God. Moreover, this means that such work derives from a profound union with God and is based on the help of His grace more than human and material means; namely, these are works of faith rather than of law, fruits of the gratitude of a heart that sees and loves rather than seeking gratification from a life poor in love....[T]he Church is the subject directly responsible for the service of charity and that her charitable organisations constitute an opus proprium, a task in accordance with her nature, and participate in her mission (cf. Deus Caritas est, no. 29). Participation means in some way being an instrument, but never the origin or end of what one serves. Moreover, I believe it is important to understand that our charitable organisations are located within the Church and not alongside her. A Caritas that wasn’t an ecclesial expression would have no meaning or existence. The Church cannot be considered as a partner of Catholic organisations. They are the organisations that take part in her mission....Today, dear Friends, the tragedy of modern mankind is not lacking clothing and housing. The most tragic hunger and the most terrible anguish is not lack of food. It’s much more about the absence of God and the lack of true love, the love that was revealed to us on the Cross.
It is a memorable address, except for the insistence of calling the Church the "Church of Vatican II"... And then many complain when some traditional-minded Catholics point out that the "Conciliar Church" seems to be something else: those in places of responsability themselves insist on using this language as if they were speaking of a historically "new" entity!
In any event, after the opening ceremony, when speaking to journalists, the Cardinal had this to say about the non-Catholic slogan chosen by Caritas, a pure example of what Sarah had just called "humanism without God" in his address (CNS):
The goal of a new slogan adopted by the Vatican’s official charity is being called “unrealistic” by the Church official charged with overseeing the organization.
Cardinal Robert Sarah said he doesn’t understand Caritas International’s new theme – “One Human Family – Zero Poverty,” which was unveiled at the charity’s annual meeting this week in Rome.
“I think it would be wise not to follow some unrealistic slogans. But, I'm very hesitant to understand what zero poverty means, because Christ said we will always have the poor. So, what is a realistic way we can fight the poverty? But, it's difficult to absolutely cancel out poverty,” he told CNA May 22.
The slogan is both the theme for this week’s conference and for the organization’s strategic document for the next four years.