Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), affirms that Catholic identity and values must be evident in the way charitable services are organized and delivered, said Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA.
“The encyclical also reaffirms that the Catholic response is a social response, but one rooted in the commitment and conviction of individual behavior,” said the priest. “Without that support, our work would be impossible.”
Fr. Snyder issued a statement yesterday, describing the Pope’s teaching as both “a challenge and an affirmation” and indicating that his organization and its member agencies welcome the encyclical. It is an affirmation of the commitment of his organization to make mission and Catholic identity a priority in the formation of its leaders and staff, he said.
“As organizations specifically commissioned to carry out the social ministry of the Church, the encyclical demands that we be not just another philanthropic organization but that our Catholic identity and its inherent values imbue our organization and permeate how we deliver services,” Fr. Snyder stated.
The priest also noted that the Pope’s comments about the place of proselytism in the service of charity “affirm the practice of Catholic Charities agencies to provide services based upon need and not race or creed.”