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Press Release from the Bishops' Conferences of Europe at the end their meeting on the relationship between faith, charity and evangelization



Witnessing to faith through charity
Meeting of bishops and delegates with responsibility for works of charity on behalf of the Bishops’ Conferences in Europe
Trieste, Italy, 4-6 November 2013

The relationship between faith, charity and evangelisation; the role of the bishop and the faithful, as main protagonists in the pastoral work of charity which goes beyond the response to an immediate need, but offers above all a welcoming community which is testimony to faith in that Jesus born poor for the poor – these issues were the focus of reflections at the meeting of bishops and delegates with responsibility for works of charity on behalf of the Bishops’ Conferences in Europe, gathered in Trieste (Italy) from 4-6 November.
The meeting, promoted by the Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum’ and CCEE’s Caritas in Veritate Commission, took place in Trieste at the invitation of the local Archbishop,
Mgr Giampaolo Crepaldi, President of the afore-mentioned CCEE Commission.
The keynote addresses, which focussed on the profound link between faith and charity in its truly theological, ecclesiological and pastoral perspective, were entrusted to Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum’, and to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and CCEE Vice-President. Subsequently, Mgr Giampietro Dal Toso, Secretary of the Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum’, Professor Helmuth Pree, lecturer at the University of Munich, and Professor Heinrich Pompey, lecturer at the University of Olomuc (Czech Republic), provided an in-depth analysis of Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Intimae Ecclesiae Natura, highlighting in particular the duties of ecclesial service of charity and some aspects of the theology of charity at the heart of the document. The work of the meeting was also enriched by the testimonies of the director of Caritas in Trieste, Fr Roberto Pasetti, by the Albanian Ms Miranda Mulgeci Kola, and the visit-meeting with workers at the canteen for the poor in Trieste, the Teresianium.
There were interventions at the meeting from the Prefect of Trieste, Dr. Francesca A. Garufi, the Mayor of the City, Dr. Roberto Cosolini and the President of the Port Authority, Dr. Marina Monassi. The civil authorities of the port city wanted to show their appreciation for the work undertaken by the Church for the needy, and especially to the Archdiocese of Trieste for its commitment to the most impoverished people in the local community.
From the addresses and discussions which followed, there emerged clearly the close link existing between faith, charity and evangelisation. For the bishops who travelled to Trieste, it is impossible to think of charity without faith: to do so would be to reduce the church institution to a mere NGO. Nor is it possible to think of faith without charity: that would be to reduce faith to a disembodied perspective. Instead, faith needs works.
In addition, there emerged more and more the idea that it is the Christian community as a whole which is called to be the real protagonist in the Church’s charitable interventions. In fact, although charity is a constitutive part and a response of faith of every Christian, it needs the community so as not to lose its ecclesial character. Nor is it possible to think of charity as an activity of the Church entrusted to a specific structure. The local parishes, in fact, testify to a great diversity and models which respond to the needs of the reality in which they find themselves. At the same time, the bishop is always more conscious of his role in guiding, governing and controlling his charitable bodies.
As regards Benedict XVI’s Motu proprio, the bishops reiterated its importance, clarifying some legal and organisational elements of the numerous “charitable” structures which have emerged in recent years. Intimae Eccleasiae Natura is becoming more and more a guiding document for charitable bodies showing in particular how the pastoral work of charity can become an important tool of evangelisation.
In the document there emerges in particular the fact that being a charitable community means above all a welcoming community, that is, not just a response to an immediate need, but the offering of a reality which allows the development of the person as a whole. In fact, what the community brings is not just a response to a material need, it is above all a closeness which distances isolation and solitude, but is also and especially precisely that “something more” from the community of believers, its faith in God.
Thierry Bonaventura
CCEE Media Officer
Gallusstrasse, 24
CH-St. Gallen
Tel. +4171 227 6044
Fax. +4171 227 6041
Mobile: +41 79 1280 189
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