Catholic Relief Services’ board chair, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tuscon, was in Rome this week for the launch of the global Year of Faith. While in Rome he has been working as a Synod Father alongside fellow bishops and cardinals on the Synod on the New Evangelization, and made a presentation to the Synod about the role of charity and justice in the New Evangelization. He said:
A prominent world leader enthusiastically joined our Catholic community of faith moved, he said, by the fact that everywhere he went he encountered the Catholic Church serving the poor, caring for the weak, standing up to injustice, defending human dignity. “I wanted to be part of that family that was doing so much good in the name of the Lord,” he proclaimed.
Works of charity and justice are both necessary and powerful.
They are necessary because all around the world people continue to suffer painful injustice, poverty, persecution. They are, too often, degraded, ridiculed, their human dignity attacked. Our world is still broken, marked by shocking inequality, blatant discrimination, harsh divisions and bloody violence. Wickedness exists. Evil persists. Tears and terror abound. The Lord’s companions — Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, the good thief, persons with leprosy, paralysis and blindness — remain with us today seeking healing, help, respect and justice.
They are powerful because there is no more effective, impactful way to evangelize. Pope Benedict XVI brought it forth beautifully in Caritas in Veritate, “Testimony to Christ’s charity, through works of justice, peace and development, is part and parcel of evangelization, because Jesus Christ, who loves us, is concerned with the whole person.”
When we offer the witness of living and acting in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, people, especially the young, are drawn to Christ, to the Church. They are attracted to a community, a Church that stands for human life and dignity, that resists injustice that pursues peace – all in following the teaching and example of Jesus Christ.
Inextricably linked to our preaching of the saving message of the Gospel, our acts of love and justice are a prophetic evangelical call. Sharing and acting on our Catholic social teaching brings people to Christ.