VATICAN CITY, 13 NOV 2009 (VIS) - Participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", the president of which is Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, were received in audience this morning by the Holy Father, who thanked them for their "valuable service to the charitable activities of the Church".

In his address the Pope explained how the mission of "Cor Unum" involves "a constant tension between two poles: announcement of the Gospel and concern for the heart of man in the environments in which he lives". And he recalled how this year two ecclesial events had highlighted these aspects, "the publication of the Encyclical 'Caritas in vritate', and the celebration of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops on reconciliation, justice and peace.

"From different but converging points of view, these events underlined how the Church, in her announcement of salvation, cannot overlook the real living conditions of the human beings to whom she has been sent", the Holy Father added. "It was precisely through such an awareness that, over the centuries, many ecclesial structures and activities came into being with the aim of promoting individuals and peoples. They have made, and continue to make, an irreplaceable contribution to the growth and the harmonious and integral development of human beings".

"It is in this light that we must consider the Church's commitment to the development of a more just society, one in which the rights of individuals and peoples are recognised and respected. ... It is certainly not the Church's task to intervene directly in the political life of States, but the Christian community cannot and must not remain at the margins when it comes to defending human rights and promoting justice".

Benedict XVI went on: "Faith is a spiritual force that purifies reason in the search for a just [social] order, freeing it from the ever-present risk of being 'blinded' by egoism, by interest and by power. The truth is, as experience shows even in the most socially developed societies, that caritas remains necessary. The service of love is never superfluous because situations of suffering, solitude and need still persist, which require dedicated people and tangible aid".

"Thus, anyone who serves within the ecclesial organisations that concern themselves with charitable initiatives and works cannot but have this main objective: bringing people to know and experience the merciful Face of the heavenly Father, because in the heart of God-Love is the true answer to the most intimate hopes of every human heart".

"It is important that the Church, inserted into the events of history and of the life of man", the Pope concluded, "become a channel for the goodness and love of God".

AC/COR UNUM ASSEMBLY/CORDES                                    VIS 091113 (460)

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