|(c) Kancelaria Prezydenta RP (source: Wikimedia)|
...all the faithful have the right and duty to devote themselves personally to living the new commandment that Christ left us (cf. Jn 15:12), and to offering our contemporaries not only material assistance, but also refreshment and care for their souls (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 28).As well as acknowledging that Catholic charitable groups need proper organisational structures, the Pope emphasises the bonds that exist between the three missions of the Church, and how each informs the other. Works of mercy, when carried out in the name of the Gospel, can also be a means of preaching the Word – of witnessing to the reality of God’s love. In light of this, the Pope, according to the Motu Proprio, wishes that those who work in the 'service of charity' in the Church do so according to her mind and the full treasury of her teaching.
The modernist ‘social Gospel’ is often preached at the expense of the real one – the one that also asks followers of Christ to renounce the world and stand up as witnesses to the truth. It is only by witnessing to the truth that we can begin to be properly prophetic -- truly standing up for life and the family, as well as for the poor; for the rights of God in a secular and relativist world, as well as for a fair wage.
My liberal days... or, Confessions of a former Modernist
As a new Catholic, the first parishes I found myself in also tended to espouse ‘liberation theology’ at the expense of traditional Catholic faith and morals. A few priests openly advocated ‘women clergy’, whilst ‘lay ministers’ seemed to cringe at the very idea of Processions of the Blessed Sacrament or Latin in the liturgy. Homilies concentrated on saving the poor from oppression, but only in material terms -- Hell and the reality of sin were hardy, if ever, mentioned.
I put down Hans Küng and took up the Gospels
Dissent is dangerous
Since discovering that Catholicism which I was searching for as a teenager, and since moving away from dissent and rebellion in the name of ‘my’ (wrong) version of the Gospel to accepting the magisterial authority of the Church, I have often been left bemused when confronted with those who still cling to their angry anti-Catholic brand of Catholicism. Why do they stay, what motivates them? The answer is obvious – they want to see revolution and chaos in the Church. If they are anything like I was during my ‘social justice’ days, then they are dangerous.
Promoting a ‘social Gospel’ (or a ‘political’ or anti-Catholic one) at the expense of the entirely of the Church’s moral and theological teaching, whilst pretending to act in the name of the hierarchy, is a danger that Pope St Pius X warned us about. Now Pope Benedict XVI is also responding to the crisis produced by those counter-Catholics who 'vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church' and who have designed the ruin of the Church 'not from without but from within' (cf Pascendi Dominici Gregis, 1907).
On the Service of Charity
It is the responsibility of the diocesan Bishop to ensure that in the activities and management of these agencies [such as Caritas, CAFOD, etc] the norms of the Church’s universal and particular law are respected, as well as the intentions of the faithful who made donations or bequests for these specific purposes (cf. canons 1300 CIC and 1044 CCEO).
It is the responsibility of the diocesan Bishop … to coordinate within his territory the different works of charitable service, both those promoted by the Hierarchy itself and those arising from initiatives of the faithful, without prejudice to their proper autonomy in accordance with their respective Statutes. In particular, he is to take care that their activities keep alive the spirit of the Gospel.
Employees working for Catholic charities must respect Catholic teaching
The agencies referred to … are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.
Reform the malformed
To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life.
Bishops: stand up to error!
It is the duty of the diocesan Bishop and the respective parish priests to see that in this area the faithful are not led into error or misunderstanding; hence they are to prevent publicity being given through parish or diocesan structures to initiatives which, while presenting themselves as charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the Church’s teaching.
Agencies to put faith before funding
In particular, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that charitable agencies dependent upon him do not receive financial support from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching. Similarly, lest scandal be given to the faithful, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that these charitable agencies do not accept contributions for initiatives whose ends, or the means used to pursue them, are not in conformity with the Church’s teaching.
No more fat cats in the curia or our charities!
In a particular way, the Bishop is to see that the management of initiatives dependent on him offers a testimony of Christian simplicity of life. To this end, he will ensure that salaries and operational expenses, while respecting the demands of justice and a necessary level of professionalism, are in due proportion to analogous expenses of his diocesan Curia.
If they're no longer Catholic, let the people know
The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name “Catholic” and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge.
I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of particular mention, and I decree that it be promulgated by publication in the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and enter into force on 10 December 2012
It seems that the Bishops of England & Wales have already recognised the importance of this document. They are to be commended, I think, for their swift and welcoming reaction to it. Speaking on their behalf, Fr Marcus Stock said yesterday:
As one singer who used to be popular amongst 'social Gospellers' would put it: The times, they are a changin'.The Bishops are resolved to ensure that the agencies and organisations of the Catholic Church in England and Wales which support the poor and vulnerable both at home and overseas, fulfil their mission in a way which is fully consistent with the social and moral teaching of the Catholic Church. The Steering Group has been asked to make recommendations to the Bishops' Conference at the November 2013 plenary meeting.The publication by the Holy Father of his Apostolic Letter Intima Ecclesiae natura ‘On the Service of Charity’, and the principles and norms it contains, is very welcome at this moment in time by the Bishops as it will provide the essential framework on which their proposals will be developed and carried forward.
The Holy Father's Motu Proprio, which will come into effect next week, is welcome indeed, as is the response to it from the Bishops of England & Wales. Knowing how powerful a lobby the 'social justice' movement still is, and how those within it can sometimes be led astray by erroneous interpretations of the Gospel, I feel that this Apostolic Letter -- with the possible exception of Summorum Pontificum -- will be regarded by future generations as Pope Benedict XVI's most important publication. It signals a decisive, yet measured, end to dissent in the Church -- especially that dissent which claims to act in the name of love.