Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
November 9, 2009
Giving the poor a blessing
Archbishop Prendergast says state should not be expected to provide for all
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Catholics cannot stand idly by when many are suffering, both locally and globally, from the downturn in the economy, said Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.
Pope Benedict's latest encyclical emphasizes the importance of gratuity - giving "simply becomes it is good to do so," Prendergast said at a fundraising banquet for two Catholic groups that serve the poor.
In Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), the pope contrasts gratuity with the logic of the marketplace and that of politics, he said.
OBLIGATION TO GIVE
In the marketplace, one gives in order to receive. In the "political realm," one gives "because one is obliged to give," the archbishop said.
Prendergast spoke at the event that raised about $50,000 for the Shepherds of Good Hope, which ministers to the homeless, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul which runs soup kitchens, visits the elderly and shut-ins among its many programs.
"Sometimes, we in Canada believe all social services ought to be provided by the state and that there ought to be no need for food banks or shelters such as the Shepherds of Good Hope provide," he said.
"But being engaged and committed to assisting with the work of St. Vincent de Paul, clothing depots and an occasional or ongoing contact with the poor becomes a blessing to us and our fellow volunteers."
The archbishop pointed out how Benedict had warned against the "risk of the state providing everything." For it to do so would make it, in the pope's words "a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person - every person - needs: namely, loving personal concern."
Prendergast said, "A real innovation of the encyclical letter is the connection the pope makes between 'social ethics' and 'life ethics.'"
The archbishop noted Benedict issued his encyclical to mark the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's Populorum Progressio but advised that it be read "in tandem" with Paul VI's other, more controversial major encyclical Humanae Vitae.
"The radical openness to life that Pope Paul defended in Humanae Vitae, Benedict says, should be the inspiration for the Church's social doctrine, which is intended to foster the full flourishing of communal life at all levels," he said.
"The holy father makes this point even clearer when he comments that societies that de-emphasize life, even to the point of fostering artificial contraception and abortion, suffer quite practical economic hardships."
Letter to the Editor - 11/23/09
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