Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cardinal: It's the Thought That Counts

Cor Unum President Presents Pope

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 29, 2008 (Zenit.org).- God looks at the thoughts and intentions of those who give alms, not the amount given, said the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

Cardinal Paul Cordes joined Hans-Peter Rothlin, president of the Catholic association Aid to the Church in Need, to present today Benedict XVI's message for Lent. The message is titled "Christ Made Himself Poor for You."

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum is the agency that coordinates and promotes the world's Catholic institutions of assistance and volunteering.

The cardinal first noted the high structural costs of assistance organizations, noting that sometimes 50% of revenue is spent on maintaining them.

He then focused on how Benedict XVI's message highlights the intention with which benefactors should aid the poor.

"In the first place," the cardinal explained, "the Pope shows -- above all to practicing Christians -- the indissoluble bond between piety and caring for the needy."

The Holy Father also speaks of the intentions of the donor, the cardinal noted. "At a time in which such great honor is paid to benefactors it is certainly appropriate to call attention to the spirit of a benefactor's gesture, which is not to look to the glorification of self but to the glorification of the Father who is in heaven," he said. "The love of God is at the root of all good actions accomplished by man."

Cardinal Cortes recalled the Holy Father's reference to the evangelical episode of the widow who gave everything she had.

The prelate affirmed that "the value of our gifts is measured not on the basis of the amount stamped on the coins. Before God it is only the hand of the donor that determines the importance of a gift. Its value depends on the [...] thoughts and intentions that have caused the person to give."

Supporting the Church

During the presentation, Rothlin explained the work of Aid to the Church in Need, saying that it is "not an order or an ecclesial community, but a 'work' that has the aim of helping the Church wherever she is not capable of carrying out her mission without external assistance."

Aid to the Church in Need is an international pastoral aid organization under the authority of the Holy See.

In the "Spiritual Guidelines" written by the organization's founder in 2002 shortly before his death, he indicated that "the majority of his 'benefactors' were and remain simple people who do not possess great wealth, but are, rather, like the widow of the Gospel who makes her offering in secret [...] then goes on her way," Rothlin said.

The text of the "Spiritual Guidelines" make it clear, Rothlin added, that those who distribute the offerings "must never forget that 'they are not just administrating money, but above all the charity of our benefactors.'"

"Here we come to the central point of the Holy Father's message," he said, "which could be entitled: 'The secret of almsgiving is charity.'"

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