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Keep your nose close to the ground

VATICAN (SE): Charity is born out of the heart, not obligation or any sense of superiority, the international president of Caritas, Luis Cardinal Tagle, told a symposium marking the 10th anniversary of the publication of the encyclical penned by Pope Benedict XVI, God is Love (Deus Caritas Est), held at the Vatican at the Pope Paul VI Hall on February 25.

“So on the one hand, we are invited to rediscover the wealth of teaching contained in the encyclical,” he said, but, “On the other hand, we are reminded that we are reading it within the concrete realities of 2016, ten years after.”

The archbishop of Manila said that all documents are time sensitive, so there is opportunity to expand on the implications of the words of past popes, as they take on new significance in light of developing situations.

He quoted Pope Benedict as saying that charity is not only a welfare activity, but a manifestation of the Church as a community of love. He said that this dictum is reflected in the charter that Caritas drew up last year, describing itself as the heart of the Church to the poor.

It is there to save lives, rebuild communities, promote human development and address the root causes of extreme poverty.

He added that it is not just a matter of professional competence,  which must go hand in hand with what he called a training of the heart, saying that these two things are not contradictory.

Cardinal Tagle added that charity is just as essential to the life of the Church as the liturgy and the sacraments, which also must be performed with a sense of service, not with any sense of superiority.

He had strong words for people who indulge in charitable works with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness, and look down on those whom they are meant to be serving.


To work in the charitable sector constructively, he said that people need to have an understanding of poverty and its causes, keeping their noses close to the ground and not stuck up in the air.

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