Works of charity must not substitute for commitment to social justice, Pope tells Italian business leaders

Works of charity must not substitute for commitment to social justice, Pope tells Italian business leaders


On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI met with 8,000 members of Italy’s Christian Union of Entrepreneurs and Managers (UCID), with whom he stressed the deep need for a Christian ethic in the world of business, particularly in building a socially just society.

The statutes of the Union have recently received the approval of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

The Holy Father began his address by praising the expressed intent of the business people "to tend towards an ethic that goes beyond a simple professional code of conduct."

He said that this ethic reminded him of the profound relationship between justice and charity, one of the themes of his recent Encyclical "Deus caritas est."

"Christians”, he went on, “are called always to seek justice, yet they carry in themselves the impulse of love, which even goes beyond justice.”

The Pope pointed out that “the road traveled by lay Christians from the middle of the nineteenth century to today, has brought them to an awareness that works of charity must not substitute the commitment to social justice.”

“The Church's social doctrine,” he said, “and above all the activity of so many Christian-inspired groups such as your own, show just how far the ecclesial community has traveled in this matter."

Here, Pope Benedict recalled the 2004 publication of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which was drafted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

He said that it is "an educational instrument, extremely useful for all those people who aim to allow themselves be guided by the Gospel in their working and professional lives,” adding his hope that "it may become a constant point of reference" for members of the UCID as they seek solutions to the "complex problems of the world of work and the economy."

This area, he said, represents their "road to sanctification."

The Holy Father also commented on the "Charter of Values", a document drawn up for young members of the UCID.

He commended "the positive spirit of faith in the human person" that animates the document, and the fact that its declaration of principles is backed up by a positive commitment to put them into practice.

He said he particularly appreciated "the stated aim of valuing all individuals for what each of them is or can give, according to their talents, while avoiding all forms of exploitation; as well as the recognition of the importance of the family and of personal responsibility.”

“Unfortunately”, he lamented, “such values, also thanks to current economic difficulties, often risk not being followed by those business people who lack solid moral inspiration. For this reason, the contribution of those who draw from their own Christian formation is indispensable."

Concluding his address, Benedict challenged members of the group to draw their inspiration from St. Joseph--the patron saint of workers--both "in your daily tasks, ... and in your tenacious search for God's justice in human affairs."

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