Tuesday, December 4, 2012

As Pope Benedict Moves To Reform Catholic Charities Remarks By Archbishop Chaput In 2011 Seem Important

The Pope made some rather big news on Saturday that has sort of been overshadowed by the fact he now has twitter account. I don't expect this to remain the status of things. The Pope takes another step on what has been a key drive of his Papacy. That is reforming the Charitable wing of the Church. Rocco Palmo has the document here at "The Church's Deepest Nature" – In His Own Call, B16 Directs Catholic Charities

John Allen had a good overview of it here at  New rules aim to beef up Catholic identity of church charities.

On that note I think is interesting to look at some rather extensive remarks that the then Archbishop Chaput of Denver and  Dr. Jonathan Reyes, the CEO of our Catholic Charities  in Denver had to say on this topic in Renewing the Mission of Catholic Charities  that was written back in July of 2001. Archbishop Chaput is now of  course Archbishop of Philadelphia. Dr Reyes now has a significant new job that being executive director of the U.S. bishops' Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development. In that role he will be overseeing the Bishops efforts in domestic and international affairs and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the bishops' anti-poverty program.

Let me post part of Chaput's thoughts from 2011 where he also mentions Reyes. It seems to be pretty important in light of the Pope's moves this past weekend . The BOLDING IS MINE.

....Having said all this as a kind of preface, I want to return to the particular focus of my remarks: What exactly does it mean when we say that a social ministry is "Catholic"? Dr. Jonathan Reyes, the CEO of our Catholic Charities here in Denver, gave me the following answer, and it's a good one. A social agency is "Catholic" in two main ways. Structurally, it's an arm of the local Church and organic to her mission. And evangelically, it's a witness to the commandment given to us by Jesus Christ to love God first and above all; and then to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Being faithful to Catholic teaching isn't something optional for a Catholic social worker. It's basic to his or her identity. We need to remember that Catholic belief is much more than a list of dos and don'ts. It involves much more than simply obeying a Catholic moral code – although it certainly includes that. Catholic teaching is part of a much larger view of the human person, human dignity and our eternal destiny. The content of this teaching comes from God through his son Jesus Christ. It's defined by the universal Church and then preached, taught and applied by the local bishop. The faith of the Church is constitutive of Catholic social ministry. It's not a kind of humanitarian modeling clay we can shape to our personal preferences; and the power and consistency of Catholic social witness collapse when we try to do that.

The basis of Catholic social doctrine is really quite straightforward. Speaking to Caritas International earlier this year, Father Raneiro Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., the Pope's personal preacher, said that "Christianity doesn't begin by telling people what they must do, but what God has done for them. Gift comes before duty."[5] In other words, our love for God and our love for neighbor begin as responses to love we've already received.

As our celebration of Trinity Sunday teaches us, Christian charity flows from having first experienced the love of God ourselves. For Christians, the ultimate purpose of every human being is fulfilled by knowing God's love and being with God for eternity. All Christian charity is practiced with this goal in mind. Therefore, to be authentic, Christian charity must be free and must be motivated to share God's love with others, in addition to offering material aid. Christian charity is always both a material and a religious act.

What that means for the charitable worker is this. As Benedict XVI says in Deus Caritas Est: To fully share the love of God with others, a person must herself " be moved by Christ's love [and be] guided by faith, which works through love."[6] To put it another way, we can't give what we don't have. We also need to realize that every act of Christian charity is a spiritual enrichment for the helper as well as the receiver of material aid. Grace flows both to the receiver and the giver, including those outside the organization who support the work of charity through prayer and alms-giving.

Does a person need to be Christian to work for Catholic Charities? No. Many aspects of Catholic social work can be shared by all people of good will, and cooperating with others in this work is a very good thing – so long as the Catholic heart of the ministry remains zealous and true. Christian charity doesn't require that we proselytize, that we speak out loud about our love for Jesus Christ and his love for us, in every circumstance. Sometimes, for prudential reasons, this is unwise. And Christian truth, even when openly professed, should never be offered in a coercive way. But where possible and fruitful, acts of Christian charity should clearly witness our Catholic faith and our love for Jesus Christ.

Is there a specifically Christian method to Christian charity? Again, no. For example, the social sciences give us some very good tools for helping people to deal with anger, or to parent more effectively. As useful tools, these practical techniques greatly help the work of Christian charity. And it makes obvious sense for Christian charity to use the best means available from whatever source, so long as they respect Catholic teaching.

To sum up, all acts of Christian charity should be offered as a means of communicating to other people the highest form of charity – the knowledge of Jesus Christ and his love for them. From this basic understanding we can draw some important ideals for Catholic social ministry in general, and Catholic Charities organizations in particular. These are not exhaustive, and I look forward to hearing your own thoughts, as well.

First, every act of Catholic social work should function faithfully within the mission and structures of the local diocese, with special respect for the role of the bishop. All such social work should be true to Scripture, Church teaching and the Code of Canon Law.

Second, every Catholic social ministry, along with providing material aid, should allow for the possibility of verbally professing the Gospel, as prudence permits.

Third – and this should be obvious – no Catholic charitable worker should ever engage in coercive proselytization. He or she should always embody respect for an individual's freedom, and be governed by humility and common sense.

Fourth, every Catholic social ministry should insist on the best professional skills from its staff, and should use the best professional means at its disposal in serving others – so long as those skills and means reflect the truth of Catholic moral teaching.

Fifth, Catholic Charities and similar Catholic organizations should always provide opportunities for prayer for their employees and volunteers. Prayer is integral to Christian charity both as the means of experiencing the love of God ourselves and of seeking God's help – without which, none of our works can prosper.

Sixth, every Catholic social ministry – guided by charity and prudence, but also by courage – should bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ to the wider community. This includes giving a public voice to the rights of the poor, the homeless, the disabled, the immigrant and the unborn child, consistent with the particular nature of its work.

Seventh, every Catholic Charities organization, both through action and instruction, should seek to deepen an awareness of Catholic social teaching within the Christian community.

Eighth, Catholic social work always should involve both an effective outreach to individuals struggling with poverty, and a frank critique of the structural causes of poverty through the lens of Catholic social teaching.

Ninth and finally, Catholic social ministries should welcome opportunities to work with other individuals, groups and social agencies in ways that are compatible with Catholic teaching. But we need to stay alert to the fact that cooperation can easily turn Catholic organizations into sub-contractors of large donors – donors with a very different anthropology and thus very different notions of authentic human development. And that can undermine the very purpose of Catholic social work.

Given the state of Catholic charitable organizations, pursuing these ideals will involve serious cultural change within many Catholic agencies. That will take time. It will also demand people who first, believe in real human development, as understood in the light of Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith; and second, who have the courage to speak the truth and act on it confidently, despite the "humanism without God" that shapes so much modern social service thinking. There is no such thing as "humanism without God." It never endures, and it ends by debasing the humanity it claims to serve. The record of the last century proves it again and again in bitterly painful ways.

In the end, the kind of people we hire and the training we provide will determine whether the ideals I've just listed have any effect. With this in mind, Catholic social ministries should always use their training and hiring processes to advance a faithful understanding of Catholic social teaching within their institutional culture – and especially among their employees. Again, we can't give what we don't have. Christian charity is not generic "do-goodism." Catholic social work exists to serve others – but it's very specifically an expression of our love for Jesus Christ, Christ's love for us, and our fidelity to the Church that Jesus founded. If we don't have these things in our hearts, we have very little worthwhile to share......



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