The Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, said this week he was pleased by the warm reception Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical “Deus Caritas est” has received so far, and he noted that charity unconnected to the Good News and to worship becomes mere social assistance.
According to the Kath.net news agency, the cardinal stated that to affirm that “God is love is not simple preaching about God. It is the most divine thing human beings can say about God, and at the same time it is the highest thing you can say about man, who is loved by God.”
“My impression,” he continued, “is that humanity was waiting for something like this encyclical for a long time, and in fact, there is no simpler nor deeper message for human beings than its first words, which at the same time perfectly reflect its contents: God is Love,” Cardinal Meisner said.
The dignity and intangibility of the human being, he went on, are based on this truth, that “God loves man and that man has been loved by God; this is not a purely spiritual occurrence, but rather it envelops man with all of the love of which he is capable, as the Pope notes. Marriage between a man and a woman is, for example, a reflection of this physical-spiritual love.”
Cardinal Meisner said the charitable work of the Church is not “a social pastime that the Church engages in when it befits her, but rather it belongs to the essence of her mission. When worship is not united to charity, it becomes an empty ritual. When the proclamation of the Gospel is not carried out nor bears fruit in charity, it becomes ideology. And when charity is not united to the proclamation of the Gospel and worship, it becomes mere social assistance.”