Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomes new Apostolic Letter issued motu proprio

Wednesday, December 05 2012
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The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomes the new motu proprio by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, on “The Service of Charity”, which was released 1 December 2012 but dated 11 November, the memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, the 4th century Bishop renowned for his works of charity. Pope Benedict has issued a timely reminder that the ministry of charity is essential to the very nature of the Church, just as he had earlier reminded us that “charity demands justice” and “transcends justice” (Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, n. 6).

From the very beginning of the Church, the Apostles and their successors the Bishops have been concerned about how the Church carries out its works of charity. The Acts of the Apostles record how all the community of faith was involved in making sure that the distribution of food and the care for widows and others in need were exercised correctly, “in the Spirit and in wisdom”, with attentive fairness for the needs of all (see Acts of the Apostles, 6.1-6). The 2004 Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, Apostolorum Successores, states that the “Bishop ought to make every effort to expand and improve” the Church’s charitable services (n. 195). Similarly, it says the Bishop is to ensure that the voice of the Church is heard “in defence of the dignity of the human person and of fundamental human rights, in calling for the protection of the weakest and in promoting justice … and respect for nature” (n. 21.2).

The motu proprio continues the Church’s ongoing reflection on how best to exercise its diaconia or service for those in need. As the Holy Father observes in this recent Apostolic Letter and in his earlier Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, the ministry of charity is one of three inseparable responsibilities for the Church, together with proclaiming the word of God and celebrating the sacraments.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
4 December 2012

Last Updated on Wednesday, December 05 2012