Cardinal Bagnasco Stresses Charity as Moral Imperative

Notes World's Need for True Joy on 43rd Anniversary of Sant'Egidio

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GENOA, Italy, FEB. 22, 2011 (Zenit.org).- It is only by recognizing in God the source of love for one's neighbor that it is possible to make charity a moral imperative, said Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. 

The archbishop of Genoa stated this during a Mass celebrated on the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of the Sant'Egidio Community, founded by Andrea Riccardi.

Speaking to members of the community, the cardinal recalled that in 1968, a year characterized by "a wind of passion and future" that assailed spirits and institutions, "in that climate full of outbursts and ideas, of ideologies and utopias, you found the way, the key to things."

"You looked more intensely at Christ's face and discovered that he looked at you with new intensity; you opened the Gospel and listened to the ancient words with a new heart, caused, perhaps, by the story in which you were immersed and did not wish to subtract yourself from," the prelate added.

"And there," he said, "in this more intimate and true encounter than that of the laborer of the first hour, you rediscovered the everlasting way, that of Jesus, a way that we must always make our own again and translate according to the hour of the times."

"In the midst of so much whirling of dreams and of ideas, of seeking the new and the authentic, the divine Master showed you the way to be followed with ever new conviction and enthusiasm," said Cardinal Bagnasco.

"Also today," he continued, "there is need of enthusiasm and the world is in need of true joy, interwoven with commitment, pure generosity, faithful continuity," to be embodied "in small things and hidden from our life."

Fidelity

The cardinal noted that this commitment is measured with "the proof of continuity, that is, in fidelity."

However, he said, it is important not to fuel ambiguities and misunderstandings.

The prelate affirmed that "the commandment of love is not goodness of manner or the canonization of spontaneity or the illusion of ease and disengagement."

"Love is rigorous because the poor man is boss; more than that, he is the face of Christ," said Cardinal Bagnasco. "The heart of everything is awareness that the source is Christ, his grace."

"Because of this," the prelate affirmed, "love for men refers us to God's love for us: It is he who with his love creates in us the capacity to love, to become a gift for the poor and the weak."

He added, "It is from looking at one another with sympathy that we learn to look at the world with benevolence, it is from his forgiveness that we succeed in forgiving ourselves and in forgiving also those that harm us."