August 13, 2010 What Does "Charity" Mean in the Catholic Social Tradition?

Some thoughts on Caritas in Veritate by Bill Purcell, Associate Director for Catholic Social Tradition and Practice, Center for Social Concerns

In the Catholic social tradition, Christian charity (agape) is a more comprehensive term that is at the heart of the gospel message and what makes justice possible. Caritas/Charity is the fundamental virtue that animates justice. “Charity goes beyond love.” Charity is given out of love; justice is what people are entitled to out of their human dignity. Caritas in Veritate, 6

Here are some key points from Caritas in Veritate:

Charity is a force for peace and justice.
“Love—caritas—is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace.”— Caritas in Veritate, 1

Giftedness is key to human development.
“Economic, social and political development, if it is to be authentically human, needs to make room for the principle of gratuitousness as an expression of fraternity.” — Caritas in Veritate, 34

True charity calls us to care for all of God’s creation.
“The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a re¬sponsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards human¬ity as a whole.”— Caritas in Veritate, 48

Charity in truth calls us to be global citizens.
“Globalization is a multifaceted and complex phenomenon which must be grasped in the diversity and unity of all its different dimensions.”— Caritas in Veritate, 42

Author: Bill Purcell

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