Christian Charity

Pope Benedict teaches that true alleviation of poverty is spiritual and material

Pope Benedict teaches that true alleviation of poverty is spiritual and material


Aid organizations must bring more than material aid to truly help those in need, said Pope Benedict. They must bring “the joyful witness of those who have met the Lord,” which will “be a light to illuminate the way of people seeking a more dignified life," the pontiff emphasized.

The Holy Father made these remarks in a meeting with the administrative council of the “Populorum Progressio” Foundation in Rome gathered for their annual assembly.

The foundation was started in 1992 by Pope John Paul II to serve poor rural communities in Latin America and the Caribbean. John Paul II founded the group because he saw the need to help people “whose ancestral customs are threatened by postmodern culture, and who risk seeing the destruction of their traditions which are so ready to accept the truth of the Gospel.”

Pope Benedict praised two of the aspects that distinguish Populorum Progressio from other organizations: the first is the concept of 'integral promotion'," which "takes the social and material aspect of life into account, as well as the announcement of faith which gives full meaning to man's life, and the second is the consultation of local bishops in approving aid to communities.

The practice of “integral promotion” satisfies the real poverty of those in need said the Pope. “[M]an's real poverty is his lack of hope, the absence of a Father to give meaning to his existence." 

According to the Holy Father, the unique practice of consulting the local bishops is admirable because, “the decision rests in the hands of people who well know the problems and concrete needs of those peoples."

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