If it were not for all the entire past of the Universe....
(too old to reply)
Sir Gilligan Horry
2006-01-27 11:29:45 UTC
... I wouldn't be able to share a joke, jest, laugh,
and a friendly smile with ... Miss Nancy.


Ok, ok, ok, what are we going to rant on about now.
Charles D. Bohne™
2006-01-27 13:52:56 UTC
Post by Sir Gilligan Horry
... I wouldn't be able to share a joke, jest, laugh,
and a friendly smile with ... Miss Nancy.
Ok, ok, ok, what are we going to rant on about now.
Deua caritas est:
Sir Gilligan Horry
2006-01-28 04:29:16 UTC
On Fri, 27 Jan 2006 14:52:56 +0100, Charles D. Bohne™
Post by Charles D. Bohne™
Post by Sir Gilligan Horry
... I wouldn't be able to share a joke, jest, laugh,
and a friendly smile with ... Miss Nancy.
Ok, ok, ok, what are we going to rant on about now.
I always click on your links, and read your kind posts.

Although, for once, I'm not going to click on that link.

However, I still love you like a Grandfather.

Do you think Sir Artie is working for the
Goal-a-Trip Fed-er-Rain-Dear-Action.
Charles D. Bohne™
2006-01-28 12:21:31 UTC
Post by Sir Gilligan Horry
I always click on your links, and read your kind posts.
Although, for once, I'm not going to click on that link.
Where is your problem? It's fine stuff and makes a
good reading:



1. “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides
in him” (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express
with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian
image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny. In the
same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian
life: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”.

We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can
express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the
result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an
event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive
direction. Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words: “God
so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in
him should ... have eternal life” (3:16). In acknowledging the
centrality of love, Christian faith has retained the core of Israel's
faith, while at the same time giving it new depth and breadth. The pious
Jew prayed daily the words of the Book of Deuteronomy which expressed
the heart of his existence: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one
Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with
all your soul and with all your might” (6:4-5). Jesus united into a
single precept this commandment of love for God and the commandment of
love for neighbour found in the Book of Leviticus: “You shall love your
neighbour as yourself” (19:18; cf. Mk 12:29-31). Since God has first
loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere “command”; it is
the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.

In a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance
or even a duty of hatred and violence, this message is both timely and
significant. For this reason, I wish in my first Encyclical to speak of
the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with
others. That, in essence, is what the two main parts of this Letter are
about, and they are profoundly interconnected. The first part is more
speculative, since I wanted here—at the beginning of my Pontificate—to
clarify some essential facts concerning the love which God mysteriously
and gratuitously offers to man, together with the intrinsic link between
that Love and the reality of human love. The second part is more
concrete, since it treats the ecclesial exercise of the commandment of
love of neighbour. The argument has vast implications, but a lengthy
treatment would go beyond the scope of the present Encyclical. I wish to
emphasize some basic elements, so as to call forth in the world renewed
energy and commitment in the human response to God's love.



A problem of language

2. God's love for us is fundamental for our lives, and it raises
important questions about who God is and who we are. In considering
this, we immediately find ourselves hampered by a problem of language.
Today, the term “love” has become one of the most frequently used and
misused of words, a word to which we attach quite different meanings.
Even though this Encyclical will deal primarily with the understanding
and practice of love in sacred Scripture and in the Church's Tradition,
we cannot simply prescind from the meaning of the word in the different
cultures and in present-day usage.

Let us first of all bring to mind the vast semantic range of the word
“love”: we speak of love of country, love of one's profession, love
between friends, love of work, love between parents and children, love
between family members, love of neighbour and love of God. Amid this
multiplicity of meanings, however, one in particular stands out: love
between man and woman, where body and soul are inseparably joined and
human beings glimpse an apparently irresistible promise of happiness.
This would seem to be the very epitome of love; all other kinds of love
immediately seem to fade in comparison. So we need to ask: are all these
forms of love basically one, so that love, in its many and varied
manifestations, is ultimately a single reality, or are we merely using
the same word to designate totally different realities?

“Eros” and “Agape” – difference and unity

3. That love between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed,
but somehow imposes itself upon human beings, was called eros by the
ancient Greeks. Let us note straight away that the Greek Old Testament
uses the word eros only twice, while the New Testament does not use it
at all: of the three Greek words for love, eros, philia (the love of
friendship) and agape, New Testament writers prefer the last, which
occurs rather infrequently in Greek usage. As for the term philia, the
love of friendship, it is used with added depth of meaning in Saint
John's Gospel in order to express the relationship between Jesus and his
disciples. The tendency to avoid the word eros, together with the new
vision of love expressed through the word agape, clearly point to
something new and distinct about the Christian understanding of love. In
the critique of Christianity which began with the Enlightenment and grew
progressively more radical, this new element was seen as something
thoroughly negative. According to Friedrich Nietzsche, Christianity had
poisoned eros, which for its part, while not completely succumbing,
gradually degenerated into vice.[1] Here the German philosopher was
expressing a widely-held perception: doesn't the Church, with all her
commandments and prohibitions, turn to bitterness the most precious
thing in life? Doesn't she blow the whistle just when the joy which is
the Creator's gift offers us a happiness which is itself a certain
foretaste of the Divine?

4. But is this the case? Did Christianity really destroy eros? Let us
take a look at the pre- Christian world. The Greeks—not unlike other
cultures—considered eros principally as a kind of intoxication, the
overpowering of reason by a “divine madness” which tears man away from
his finite existence and enables him, in the very process of being
overwhelmed by divine power, to experience supreme happiness. All other
powers in heaven and on earth thus appear secondary: “Omnia vincit amor”
says Virgil in the Bucolics—love conquers all—and he adds: “et nos
cedamus amori”—let us, too, yield to love.[2] In the religions, this
attitude found expression in fertility cults, part of which was the
“sacred” prostitution which flourished in many temples. Eros was thus
celebrated as divine power, as fellowship with the Divine.

The Old Testament firmly opposed this form of religion, which represents
a powerful temptation against monotheistic faith, combating it as a
perversion of religiosity. But it in no way rejected eros as such;
rather, it declared war on a warped and destructive form of it, because
this counterfeit divinization of eros actually strips it of its dignity
and dehumanizes it. Indeed, the prostitutes in the temple, who had to
bestow this divine intoxication, were not treated as human beings and
persons, but simply used as a means of arousing “divine madness”: far
from being goddesses, they were human persons being exploited. An
intoxicated and undisciplined eros, then, is not an ascent in “ecstasy”
towards the Divine, but a fall, a degradation of man. Evidently, eros
needs to be disciplined and purified if it is to provide not just
fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our
existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns.

5. Two things emerge clearly from this rapid overview of the concept of
eros past and present. First, there is a certain relationship between
love and the Divine: love promises infinity, eternity—a reality far
greater and totally other than our everyday existence. Yet we have also
seen that the way to attain this goal is not simply by submitting to
instinct. Purification and growth in maturity are called for; and these
also pass through the path of renunciation. Far from rejecting or
“poisoning” eros, they heal it and restore its true grandeur.

This is due first and foremost to the fact that man is a being made up
of body and soul. Man is truly himself when his body and soul are
intimately united; the challenge of eros can be said to be truly
overcome when this unification is achieved. Should he aspire to be pure
spirit and to reject the flesh as pertaining to his animal nature alone,
then spirit and body would both lose their dignity. On the other hand,
should he deny the spirit and consider matter, the body, as the only
reality, he would likewise lose his greatness. The epicure Gassendi used
to offer Descartes the humorous greeting: “O Soul!” And Descartes would
reply: “O Flesh!”.[3] Yet it is neither the spirit alone nor the body
alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of
body and soul, who loves. Only when both dimensions are truly united,
does man attain his full stature. Only thus is love —eros—able to mature
and attain its authentic grandeur.

Nowadays Christianity of the past is often criticized as having been
opposed to the body; and it is quite true that tendencies of this sort
have always existed. Yet the contemporary way of exalting the body is
deceptive. Eros, reduced to pure “sex”, has become a commodity, a mere
“thing” to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a
commodity. This is hardly man's great “yes” to the body. On the
contrary, he now considers his body and his sexuality as the purely
material part of himself, to be used and exploited at will. Nor does he
see it as an arena for the exercise of his freedom, but as a mere object
that he attempts, as he pleases, to make both enjoyable and harmless.
Here we are actually dealing with a debasement of the human body: no
longer is it integrated into our overall existential freedom; no longer
is it a vital expression of our whole being, but it is more or less
relegated to the purely biological sphere. The apparent exaltation of
the body can quickly turn into a hatred of bodiliness. Christian faith,
on the other hand, has always considered man a unity in duality, a
reality in which spirit and matter compenetrate, and in which each is
brought to a new nobility. True, eros tends to rise “in ecstasy” towards
the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it
calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing.

6. Concretely, what does this path of ascent and purification entail?
How might love be experienced so that it can fully realize its human and
divine promise? Here we can find a first, important indication in the
Song of Songs, an Old Testament book well known to the mystics.
According to the interpretation generally held today, the poems
contained in this book were originally love-songs, perhaps intended for
a Jewish wedding feast and meant to exalt conjugal love. In this context
it is highly instructive to note that in the course of the book two
different Hebrew words are used to indicate “love”. First there is the
word dodim, a plural form suggesting a love that is still insecure,
indeterminate and searching. This comes to be replaced by the word
ahabà, which the Greek version of the Old Testament translates with the
similar-sounding agape, which, as we have seen, becomes the typical
expression for the biblical notion of love. By contrast with an
indeterminate, “searching” love, this word expresses the experience of a
love which involves a real discovery of the other, moving beyond the
selfish character that prevailed earlier. Love now becomes concern and
care for the other. No longer is it self-seeking, a sinking in the
intoxication of happiness; instead it seeks the good of the beloved: it
becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice.

It is part of love's growth towards higher levels and inward
purification that it now seeks to become definitive, and it does so in a
twofold sense: both in the sense of exclusivity (this particular person
alone) and in the sense of being “for ever”. Love embraces the whole of
existence in each of its dimensions, including the dimension of time. It
could hardly be otherwise, since its promise looks towards its
definitive goal: love looks to the eternal. Love is indeed “ecstasy”,
not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, but rather as a journey,
an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its
liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic
self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God: “Whoever seeks to gain
his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Lk
17:33), as Jesus says throughout the Gospels (cf. Mt 10:39; 16:25; Mk
8:35; Lk 9:24; Jn 12:25). In these words, Jesus portrays his own path,
which leads through the Cross to the Resurrection: the path of the grain
of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, and in this way bears much
fruit. Starting from the depths of his own sacrifice and of the love
that reaches fulfilment therein, he also portrays in these words the
essence of love and indeed of human life itself.

7. By their own inner logic, these initial, somewhat philosophical
reflections on the essence of love have now brought us to the threshold
of biblical faith. We began by asking whether the different, or even
opposed, meanings of the word “love” point to some profound underlying
unity, or whether on the contrary they must remain unconnected, one
alongside the other. More significantly, though, we questioned whether
the message of love proclaimed to us by the Bible and the Church's
Tradition has some points of contact with the common human experience of
love, or whether it is opposed to that experience. This in turn led us
to consider two fundamental words: eros, as a term to indicate “worldly”
love and agape, referring to love grounded in and shaped by faith. The
two notions are often contrasted as “ascending” love and “descending”
love. There are other, similar classifications, such as the distinction
between possessive love and oblative love (amor concupiscentiae – amor
benevolentiae), to which is sometimes also added love that seeks its own

In philosophical and theological debate, these distinctions have often
been radicalized to the point of establishing a clear antithesis between
them: descending, oblative love—agape—would be typically Christian,
while on the other hand ascending, possessive or covetous love
—eros—would be typical of non-Christian, and particularly Greek culture.
Were this antithesis to be taken to extremes, the essence of
Christianity would be detached from the vital relations fundamental to
human existence, and would become a world apart, admirable perhaps, but
decisively cut off from the complex fabric of human life. Yet eros and
agape—ascending love and descending love—can never be completely
separated. The more the two, in their different aspects, find a proper
unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love in
general is realized. Even if eros is at first mainly covetous and
ascending, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing
near to the other, it is less and less concerned with itself,
increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more and
more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to “be there for” the
other. The element of agape thus enters into this love, for otherwise
eros is impoverished and even loses its own nature. On the other hand,
man cannot live by oblative, descending love alone. He cannot always
give, he must also receive. Anyone who wishes to give love must also
receive love as a gift. Certainly, as the Lord tells us, one can become
a source from which rivers of living water flow (cf. Jn 7:37-38). Yet to
become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original
source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love
of God (cf. Jn 19:34).

In the account of Jacob's ladder, the Fathers of the Church saw this
inseparable connection between ascending and descending love, between
eros which seeks God and agape which passes on the gift received,
symbolized in various ways. In that biblical passage we read how the
Patriarch Jacob saw in a dream, above the stone which was his pillow, a
ladder reaching up to heaven, on which the angels of God were ascending
and descending (cf. Gen 28:12; Jn 1:51). A particularly striking
interpretation of this vision is presented by Pope Gregory the Great in
his Pastoral Rule. He tells us that the good pastor must be rooted in
contemplation. Only in this way will he be able to take upon himself the
needs of others and make them his own: “per pietatis viscera in se
infirmitatem caeterorum transferat”.[4] Saint Gregory speaks in this
context of Saint Paul, who was borne aloft to the most exalted mysteries
of God, and hence, having descended once more, he was able to become all
things to all men (cf. 2 Cor 12:2-4; 1 Cor 9:22). He also points to the
example of Moses, who entered the tabernacle time and again, remaining
in dialogue with God, so that when he emerged he could be at the service
of his people. “Within [the tent] he is borne aloft through
contemplation, while without he is completely engaged in helping those
who suffer: intus in contemplationem rapitur, foris infirmantium
negotiis urgetur.”[5]

8. We have thus come to an initial, albeit still somewhat generic
response to the two questions raised earlier. Fundamentally, “love” is a
single reality, but with different dimensions; at different times, one
or other dimension may emerge more clearly. Yet when the two dimensions
are totally cut off from one another, the result is a caricature or at
least an impoverished form of love. And we have also seen,
synthetically, that biblical faith does not set up a parallel universe,
or one opposed to that primordial human phenomenon which is love, but
rather accepts the whole man; it intervenes in his search for love in
order to purify it and to reveal new dimensions of it. This newness of
biblical faith is shown chiefly in two elements which deserve to be
highlighted: the image of God and the image of man.

The newness of biblical faith

9. First, the world of the Bible presents us with a new image of God. In
surrounding cultures, the image of God and of the gods ultimately
remained unclear and contradictory. In the development of biblical
faith, however, the content of the prayer fundamental to Israel, the
Shema, became increasingly clear and unequivocal: “Hear, O Israel, the
Lord our God is one Lord” (Dt 6:4). There is only one God, the Creator
of heaven and earth, who is thus the God of all. Two facts are
significant about this statement: all other gods are not God, and the
universe in which we live has its source in God and was created by him.
Certainly, the notion of creation is found elsewhere, yet only here does
it become absolutely clear that it is not one god among many, but the
one true God himself who is the source of all that exists; the whole
world comes into existence by the power of his creative Word.
Consequently, his creation is dear to him, for it was willed by him and
“made” by him. The second important element now emerges: this God loves
man. The divine power that Aristotle at the height of Greek philosophy
sought to grasp through reflection, is indeed for every being an object
of desire and of love —and as the object of love this divinity moves the
world[6]—but in itself it lacks nothing and does not love: it is solely
the object of love. The one God in whom Israel believes, on the other
hand, loves with a personal love. His love, moreover, is an elective
love: among all the nations he chooses Israel and loves her—but he does
so precisely with a view to healing the whole human race. God loves, and
his love may certainly be called eros, yet it is also totally agape.[7]

The Prophets, particularly Hosea and Ezekiel, described God's passion
for his people using boldly erotic images. God's relationship with
Israel is described using the metaphors of betrothal and marriage;
idolatry is thus adultery and prostitution. Here we find a specific
reference—as we have seen—to the fertility cults and their abuse of
eros, but also a description of the relationship of fidelity between
Israel and her God. The history of the love-relationship between God and
Israel consists, at the deepest level, in the fact that he gives her the
Torah, thereby opening Israel's eyes to man's true nature and showing
her the path leading to true humanism. It consists in the fact that man,
through a life of fidelity to the one God, comes to experience himself
as loved by God, and discovers joy in truth and in righteousness—a joy
in God which becomes his essential happiness: “Whom do I have in heaven
but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you ...
for me it is good to be near God” (Ps 73 [72]:25, 28).

10. We have seen that God's eros for man is also totally agape. This is
not only because it is bestowed in a completely gratuitous manner,
without any previous merit, but also because it is love which forgives.
Hosea above all shows us that this agape dimension of God's love for man
goes far beyond the aspect of gratuity. Israel has committed “adultery”
and has broken the covenant; God should judge and repudiate her. It is
precisely at this point that God is revealed to be God and not man: “How
can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! ... My
heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not
execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God
and not man, the Holy One in your midst” (Hos 11:8-9). God's passionate
love for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love.
It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his
justice. Here Christians can see a dim prefigurement of the mystery of
the Cross: so great is God's love for man that by becoming man he
follows him even into death, and so reconciles justice and love.

The philosophical dimension to be noted in this biblical vision, and its
importance from the standpoint of the history of religions, lies in the
fact that on the one hand we find ourselves before a strictly
metaphysical image of God: God is the absolute and ultimate source of
all being; but this universal principle of creation—the Logos,
primordial reason—is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a
true love. Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is
so purified as to become one with agape. We can thus see how the
reception of the Song of Songs in the canon of sacred Scripture was soon
explained by the idea that these love songs ultimately describe God's
relation to man and man's relation to God. Thus the Song of Songs
became, both in Christian and Jewish literature, a source of mystical
knowledge and experience, an expression of the essence of biblical
faith: that man can indeed enter into union with God—his primordial
aspiration. But this union is no mere fusion, a sinking in the nameless
ocean of the Divine; it is a unity which creates love, a unity in which
both God and man remain themselves and yet become fully one. As Saint
Paul says: “He who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1
Cor 6:17).

11. The first novelty of biblical faith consists, as we have seen, in
its image of God. The second, essentially connected to this, is found in
the image of man. The biblical account of creation speaks of the
solitude of Adam, the first man, and God's decision to give him a
helper. Of all other creatures, not one is capable of being the helper
that man needs, even though he has assigned a name to all the wild
beasts and birds and thus made them fully a part of his life. So God
forms woman from the rib of man. Now Adam finds the helper that he
needed: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen
2:23). Here one might detect hints of ideas that are also found, for
example, in the myth mentioned by Plato, according to which man was
originally spherical, because he was complete in himself and
self-sufficient. But as a punishment for pride, he was split in two by
Zeus, so that now he longs for his other half, striving with all his
being to possess it and thus regain his integrity.[8] While the biblical
narrative does not speak of punishment, the idea is certainly present
that man is somehow incomplete, driven by nature to seek in another the
part that can make him whole, the idea that only in communion with the
opposite sex can he become “complete”. The biblical account thus
concludes with a prophecy about Adam: “Therefore a man leaves his father
and his mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh” (Gen

Two aspects of this are important. First, eros is somehow rooted in
man's very nature; Adam is a seeker, who “abandons his mother and
father” in order to find woman; only together do the two represent
complete humanity and become “one flesh”. The second aspect is equally
important. From the standpoint of creation, eros directs man towards
marriage, to a bond which is unique and definitive; thus, and only thus,
does it fulfil its deepest purpose. Corresponding to the image of a
monotheistic God is monogamous marriage. Marriage based on exclusive and
definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship between God and his
people and vice versa. God's way of loving becomes the measure of human
love. This close connection between eros and marriage in the Bible has
practically no equivalent in extra-biblical literature.

Jesus Christ – the incarnate love of God

12. Though up to now we have been speaking mainly of the Old Testament,
nevertheless the profound compenetration of the two Testaments as the
one Scripture of the Christian faith has already become evident. The
real novelty of the New Testament lies not so much in new ideas as in
the figure of Christ himself, who gives flesh and blood to those
concepts—an unprecedented realism. In the Old Testament, the novelty of
the Bible did not consist merely in abstract notions but in God's
unpredictable and in some sense unprecedented activity. This divine
activity now takes on dramatic form when, in Jesus Christ, it is God
himself who goes in search of the “stray sheep”, a suffering and lost
humanity. When Jesus speaks in his parables of the shepherd who goes
after the lost sheep, of the woman who looks for the lost coin, of the
father who goes to meet and embrace his prodigal son, these are no mere
words: they constitute an explanation of his very being and activity.
His death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against
himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him.
This is love in its most radical form. By contemplating the pierced side
of Christ (cf. 19:37), we can understand the starting-point of this
Encyclical Letter: “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). It is there that this truth
can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must
begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along
which his life and love must move.

13. Jesus gave this act of oblation an enduring presence through his
institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. He anticipated his
death and resurrection by giving his disciples, in the bread and wine,
his very self, his body and blood as the new manna (cf. Jn 6:31-33). The
ancient world had dimly perceived that man's real food—what truly
nourishes him as man—is ultimately the Logos, eternal wisdom: this same
Logos now truly becomes food for us—as love. The Eucharist draws us into
Jesus' act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the
incarnate Logos, we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving. The
imagery of marriage between God and Israel is now realized in a way
previously inconceivable: it had meant standing in God's presence, but
now it becomes union with God through sharing in Jesus' self-gift,
sharing in his body and blood. The sacramental “mysticism”, grounded in
God's condescension towards us, operates at a radically different level
and lifts us to far greater heights than anything that any human
mystical elevation could ever accomplish.

14. Here we need to consider yet another aspect: this sacramental
“mysticism” is social in character, for in sacramental communion I
become one with the Lord, like all the other communicants. As Saint Paul
says, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we
all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17). Union with Christ is also
union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ
just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who
have become, or who will become, his own. Communion draws me out of
myself towards him, and thus also towards unity with all Christians. We
become “one body”, completely joined in a single existence. Love of God
and love of neighbour are now truly united: God incarnate draws us all
to himself. We can thus understand how agape also became a term for the
Eucharist: there God's own agape comes to us bodily, in order to
continue his work in us and through us. Only by keeping in mind this
Christological and sacramental basis can we correctly understand Jesus'
teaching on love. The transition which he makes from the Law and the
Prophets to the twofold commandment of love of God and of neighbour, and
his grounding the whole life of faith on this central precept, is not
simply a matter of morality—something that could exist apart from and
alongside faith in Christ and its sacramental re-actualization. Faith,
worship and ethos are interwoven as a single reality which takes shape
in our encounter with God's agape. Here the usual contraposition between
worship and ethics simply falls apart. “Worship” itself, Eucharistic
communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others
in turn. A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice
of love is intrinsically fragmented. Conversely, as we shall have to
consider in greater detail below, the “commandment” of love is only
possible because it is more than a requirement. Love can be “commanded”
because it has first been given.

15. This principle is the starting-point for understanding the great
parables of Jesus. The rich man (cf. Lk 16:19-31) begs from his place of
torment that his brothers be informed about what happens to those who
simply ignore the poor man in need. Jesus takes up this cry for help as
a warning to help us return to the right path. The parable of the Good
Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37) offers two particularly important
clarifications. Until that time, the concept of “neighbour” was
understood as referring essentially to one's countrymen and to
foreigners who had settled in the land of Israel; in other words, to the
closely-knit community of a single country or people. This limit is now
abolished. Anyone who needs me, and whom I can help, is my neighbour.
The concept of “neighbour” is now universalized, yet it remains
concrete. Despite being extended to all mankind, it is not reduced to a
generic, abstract and undemanding expression of love, but calls for my
own practical commitment here and now. The Church has the duty to
interpret ever anew this relationship between near and far with regard
to the actual daily life of her members. Lastly, we should especially
mention the great parable of the Last Judgement (cf. Mt 25:31-46), in
which love becomes the criterion for the definitive decision about a
human life's worth or lack thereof. Jesus identifies himself with those
in need, with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick
and those in prison. “As you did it to one of the least of these my
brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). Love of God and love of
neighbour have become one: in the least of the brethren we find Jesus
himself, and in Jesus we find God.

Love of God and love of neighbour

16. Having reflected on the nature of love and its meaning in biblical
faith, we are left with two questions concerning our own attitude: can
we love God without seeing him? And can love be commanded? Against the
double commandment of love these questions raise a double objection. No
one has ever seen God, so how could we love him? Moreover, love cannot
be commanded; it is ultimately a feeling that is either there or not,
nor can it be produced by the will. Scripture seems to reinforce the
first objection when it states: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,' and hates
his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he
has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20). But this
text hardly excludes the love of God as something impossible. On the
contrary, the whole context of the passage quoted from the First Letter
of John shows that such love is explicitly demanded. The unbreakable
bond between love of God and love of neighbour is emphasized. One is so
closely connected to the other that to say that we love God becomes a
lie if we are closed to our neighbour or hate him altogether. Saint
John's words should rather be interpreted to mean that love of neighbour
is a path that leads to the encounter with God, and that closing our
eyes to our neighbour also blinds us to God.

17. True, no one has ever seen God as he is. And yet God is not totally
invisible to us; he does not remain completely inaccessible. God loved
us first, says the Letter of John quoted above (cf. 4:10), and this love
of God has appeared in our midst. He has become visible in as much as he
“has sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through
him” (1 Jn 4:9). God has made himself visible: in Jesus we are able to
see the Father (cf. Jn 14:9). Indeed, God is visible in a number of
ways. In the love-story recounted by the Bible, he comes towards us, he
seeks to win our hearts, all the way to the Last Supper, to the piercing
of his heart on the Cross, to his appearances after the Resurrection and
to the great deeds by which, through the activity of the Apostles, he
guided the nascent Church along its path. Nor has the Lord been absent
from subsequent Church history: he encounters us ever anew, in the men
and women who reflect his presence, in his word, in the sacraments, and
especially in the Eucharist. In the Church's Liturgy, in her prayer, in
the living community of believers, we experience the love of God, we
perceive his presence and we thus learn to recognize that presence in
our daily lives. He has loved us first and he continues to do so; we
too, then, can respond with love. God does not demand of us a feeling
which we ourselves are incapable of producing. He loves us, he makes us
see and experience his love, and since he has “loved us first”, love can
also blossom as a response within us.

In the gradual unfolding of this encounter, it is clearly revealed that
love is not merely a sentiment. Sentiments come and go. A sentiment can
be a marvellous first spark, but it is not the fullness of love. Earlier
we spoke of the process of purification and maturation by which eros
comes fully into its own, becomes love in the full meaning of the word.
It is characteristic of mature love that it calls into play all man's
potentialities; it engages the whole man, so to speak. Contact with the
visible manifestations of God's love can awaken within us a feeling of
joy born of the experience of being loved. But this encounter also
engages our will and our intellect. Acknowledgment of the living God is
one path towards love, and the “yes” of our will to his will unites our
intellect, will and sentiments in the all- embracing act of love. But
this process is always open-ended; love is never “finished” and
complete; throughout life, it changes and matures, and thus remains
faithful to itself. Idem velle atque idem nolle [9]—to want the same
thing, and to reject the same thing—was recognized by antiquity as the
authentic content of love: the one becomes similar to the other, and
this leads to a community of will and thought. The love-story between
God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will
increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and
God's will increasingly coincide: God's will is no longer for me an
alien will, something imposed on me from without by the commandments,
but it is now my own will, based on the realization that God is in fact
more deeply present to me than I am to myself.[10] Then self-
abandonment to God increases and God becomes our joy (cf. Ps 73

18. Love of neighbour is thus shown to be possible in the way proclaimed
by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and
with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This
can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an
encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my
feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my
eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His
friend is my friend. Going beyond exterior appearances, I perceive in
others an interior desire for a sign of love, of concern. This I can
offer them not only through the organizations intended for such
purposes, accepting it perhaps as a political necessity. Seeing with the
eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward
necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave. Here we
see the necessary interplay between love of God and love of neighbour
which the First Letter of John speaks of with such insistence. If I have
no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the
other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him
the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others,
solely out of a desire to be “devout” and to perform my “religious
duties”, then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes
merely “proper”, but loveless. Only my readiness to encounter my
neighbour and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only
if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me
and how much he loves me. The saints—consider the example of Blessed
Teresa of Calcutta—constantly renewed their capacity for love of
neighbour from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely
this encounter acquired its real- ism and depth in their service to
others. Love of God and love of neighbour are thus inseparable, they
form a single commandment. But both live from the love of God who has
loved us first. No longer is it a question, then, of a “commandment”
imposed from without and calling for the impossible, but rather of a
freely-bestowed experience of love from within, a love which by its very
nature must then be shared with others. Love grows through love. Love is
“divine” because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this
unifying process it makes us a “we” which transcends our divisions and
makes us one, until in the end God is “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).




The Church's charitable activity as a manifestation of Trinitarian love

19. “If you see charity, you see the Trinity”, wrote Saint
Augustine.[11] In the foregoing reflections, we have been able to focus
our attention on the Pierced one (cf. Jn 19:37, Zech 12:10), recognizing
the plan of the Father who, moved by love (cf. Jn 3:16), sent his
only-begotten Son into the world to redeem man. By dying on the Cross—as
Saint John tells us—Jesus “gave up his Spirit” (Jn 19:30), anticipating
the gift of the Holy Spirit that he would make after his Resurrection
(cf. Jn 20:22). This was to fulfil the promise of “rivers of living
water” that would flow out of the hearts of believers, through the
outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Jn 7:38-39). The Spirit, in fact, is that
interior power which harmonizes their hearts with Christ's heart and
moves them to love their brethren as Christ loved them, when he bent
down to wash the feet of the disciples (cf. Jn 13:1-13) and above all
when he gave his life for us (cf. Jn 13:1, 15:13).

The Spirit is also the energy which transforms the heart of the
ecclesial community, so that it becomes a witness before the world to
the love of the Father, who wishes to make humanity a single family in
his Son. The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love
that seeks the integral good of man: it seeks his evangelization through
Word and Sacrament, an undertaking that is often heroic in the way it is
acted out in history; and it seeks to promote man in the various arenas
of life and human activity. Love is therefore the service that the
Church carries out in order to attend constantly to man's sufferings and
his needs, including material needs. And this is the aspect, this
service of charity, on which I want to focus in the second part of the

Charity as a responsibility of the Church

20. Love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God, is first and
foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful,
but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at
every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to
the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must
practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered
service to the community. The awareness of this responsibility has had a
constitutive relevance in the Church from the beginning: “All who
believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their
possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need”
(Acts 2:44-5). In these words, Saint Luke provides a kind of definition
of the Church, whose constitutive elements include fidelity to the
“teaching of the Apostles”, “communion” (koinonia), “the breaking of the
bread” and “prayer” (cf. Acts 2:42). The element of “communion”
(koinonia) is not initially defined, but appears concretely in the
verses quoted above: it consists in the fact that believers hold all
things in common and that among them, there is no longer any distinction
between rich and poor (cf. also Acts 4:32-37). As the Church grew, this
radical form of material communion could not in fact be preserved. But
its essential core remained: within the community of believers there can
never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a
dignified life.

21. A decisive step in the difficult search for ways of putting this
fundamental ecclesial principle into practice is illustrated in the
choice of the seven, which marked the origin of the diaconal office (cf.
Acts 6:5-6). In the early Church, in fact, with regard to the daily
distribution to widows, a disparity had arisen between Hebrew speakers
and Greek speakers. The Apostles, who had been entrusted primarily with
“prayer” (the Eucharist and the liturgy) and the “ministry of the word”,
felt over-burdened by “serving tables”, so they decided to reserve to
themselves the principal duty and to designate for the other task, also
necessary in the Church, a group of seven persons. Nor was this group to
carry out a purely mechanical work of distribution: they were to be men
“full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (cf. Acts 6:1-6). In other words, the
social service which they were meant to provide was absolutely concrete,
yet at the same time it was also a spiritual service; theirs was a truly
spiritual office which carried out an essential responsibility of the
Church, namely a well-ordered love of neighbour. With the formation of
this group of seven, “diaconia”—the ministry of charity exercised in a
communitarian, orderly way—became part of the fundamental structure of
the Church.

22. As the years went by and the Church spread further afield, the
exercise of charity became established as one of her essential
activities, along with the administration of the sacraments and the
proclamation of the word: love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and
the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to her as the ministry
of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel. The Church cannot neglect
the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and
the Word. A few references will suffice to demonstrate this. Justin
Martyr († c. 155) in speaking of the Christians' celebration of Sunday,
also mentions their charitable activity, linked with the Eucharist as
such. Those who are able make offerings in accordance with their means,
each as he or she wishes; the Bishop in turn makes use of these to
support orphans, widows, the sick and those who for other reasons find
themselves in need, such as prisoners and foreigners.[12] The great
Christian writer Tertullian († after 220) relates how the pagans were
struck by the Christians' concern for the needy of every sort.[13] And
when Ignatius of Antioch († c. 117) described the Church of Rome as
“presiding in charity (agape)”,[14] we may assume that with this
definition he also intended in some sense to express her concrete
charitable activity.

23. Here it might be helpful to allude to the earliest legal structures
associated with the service of charity in the Church. Towards the middle
of the fourth century we see the development in Egypt of the “diaconia”:
the institution within each monastery responsible for all works of
relief, that is to say, for the service of charity. By the sixth century
this institution had evolved into a corporation with full juridical
standing, which the civil authorities themselves entrusted with part of
the grain for public distribution. In Egypt not only each monastery, but
each individual Diocese eventually had its own diaconia; this
institution then developed in both East and West. Pope Gregory the Great
(† 604) mentions the diaconia of Naples, while in Rome the diaconiae are
documented from the seventh and eighth centuries. But charitable
activity on behalf of the poor and suffering was naturally an essential
part of the Church of Rome from the very beginning, based on the
principles of Christian life given in the Acts of the Apostles. It found
a vivid expression in the case of the deacon Lawrence († 258). The
dramatic description of Lawrence's martyrdom was known to Saint Ambrose
(† 397) and it provides a fundamentally authentic picture of the saint.
As the one responsible for the care of the poor in Rome, Lawrence had
been given a period of time, after the capture of the Pope and of
Lawrence's fellow deacons, to collect the treasures of the Church and
hand them over to the civil authorities. He distributed to the poor
whatever funds were available and then presented to the authorities the
poor themselves as the real treasure of the Church.[15] Whatever
historical reliability one attributes to these details, Lawrence has
always remained present in the Church's memory as a great exponent of
ecclesial charity.

24. A mention of the emperor Julian the Apostate († 363) can also show
how essential the early Church considered the organized practice of
charity. As a child of six years, Julian witnessed the assassination of
his father, brother and other family members by the guards of the
imperial palace; rightly or wrongly, he blamed this brutal act on the
Emperor Constantius, who passed himself off as an outstanding Christian.
The Christian faith was thus definitively discredited in his eyes. Upon
becoming emperor, Julian decided to restore paganism, the ancient Roman
religion, while reforming it in the hope of making it the driving force
behind the empire. In this project he was amply inspired by
Christianity. He established a hierarchy of metropolitans and priests
who were to foster love of God and neighbour. In one of his letters,[16]
he wrote that the sole aspect of Christianity which had impressed him
was the Church's charitable activity. He thus considered it essential
for his new pagan religion that, alongside the system of the Church's
charity, an equivalent activity of its own be established. According to
him, this was the reason for the popularity of the “Galileans”. They
needed now to be imitated and outdone. In this way, then, the Emperor
confirmed that charity was a decisive feature of the Christian
community, the Church.

25. Thus far, two essential facts have emerged from our reflections:

a) The Church's deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold
responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria),
celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of
charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are
inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity
which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature,
an indispensable expression of her very being.[17]

b) The Church is God's family in the world. In this family no one ought
to go without the necessities of life. Yet at the same time caritas-
agape extends beyond the frontiers of the Church. The parable of the
Good Samaritan remains as a standard which imposes universal love
towards the needy whom we encounter “by chance” (cf. Lk 10:31), whoever
they may be. Without in any way detracting from this commandment of
universal love, the Church also has a specific responsibility: within
the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need. The
teaching of the Letter to the Galatians is emphatic: “So then, as we
have opportunity, let us do good to all, and especially to those who are
of the household of faith” (6:10).

Justice and Charity

26. Since the nineteenth century, an objection has been raised to the
Church's charitable activity, subsequently developed with particular
insistence by Marxism: the poor, it is claimed, do not need charity but
justice. Works of charity—almsgiving—are in effect a way for the rich to
shirk their obligation to work for justice and a means of soothing their
consciences, while preserving their own status and robbing the poor of
their rights. Instead of contributing through individual works of
charity to maintaining the status quo, we need to build a just social
order in which all receive their share of the world's goods and no
longer have to depend on charity. There is admittedly some truth to this
argument, but also much that is mistaken. It is true that the pursuit of
justice must be a fundamental norm of the State and that the aim of a
just social order is to guarantee to each person, according to the
principle of subsidiarity, his share of the community's goods. This has
always been emphasized by Christian teaching on the State and by the
Church's social doctrine. Historically, the issue of the just ordering
of the collectivity had taken a new dimension with the industrialization
of society in the nineteenth century. The rise of modern industry caused
the old social structures to collapse, while the growth of a class of
salaried workers provoked radical changes in the fabric of society. The
relationship between capital and labour now became the decisive issue—an
issue which in that form was previously unknown. Capital and the means
of production were now the new source of power which, concentrated in
the hands of a few, led to the suppression of the rights of the working
classes, against which they had to rebel.

27. It must be admitted that the Church's leadership was slow to realize
that the issue of the just structuring of society needed to be
approached in a new way. There were some pioneers, such as Bishop
Ketteler of Mainz († 1877), and concrete needs were met by a growing
number of groups, associations, leagues, federations and, in particular,
by the new religious orders founded in the nineteenth century to combat
poverty, disease and the need for better education. In 1891, the papal
magisterium intervened with the Encyclical Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII.
This was followed in 1931 by Pius XI's Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno. In
1961 Blessed John XXIII published the Encyclical Mater et Magistra,
while Paul VI, in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio (1967) and in the
Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens (1971), insistently addressed the
social problem, which had meanwhile become especially acute in Latin
America. My great predecessor John Paul II left us a trilogy of social
Encyclicals: Laborem Exercens (1981), Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987)
and finally Centesimus Annus (1991). Faced with new situations and
issues, Catholic social teaching thus gradually developed, and has now
found a comprehensive presentation in the Compendium of the Social
Doctrine of the Church published in 2004 by the Pontifical Council
Iustitia et Pax. Marxism had seen world revolution and its preliminaries
as the panacea for the social problem: revolution and the subsequent
collectivization of the means of production, so it was claimed, would
immediately change things for the better. This illusion has vanished. In
today's complex situation, not least because of the growth of a
globalized economy, the Church's social doctrine has become a set of
fundamental guidelines offering approaches that are valid even beyond
the confines of the Church: in the face of ongoing development these
guidelines need to be addressed in the context of dialogue with all
those seriously concerned for humanity and for the world in which we

28. In order to define more accurately the relationship between the
necessary commitment to justice and the ministry of charity, two
fundamental situations need to be considered:

a) The just ordering of society and the State is a central
responsibility of politics. As Augustine once said, a State which is not
governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves: “Remota
itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia?”.[18] Fundamental
to Christianity is the distinction between what belongs to Caesar and
what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22:21), in other words, the distinction
between Church and State, or, as the Second Vatican Council puts it, the
autonomy of the temporal sphere.[19] The State may not impose religion,
yet it must guarantee religious freedom and harmony between the
followers of different religions. For her part, the Church, as the
social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is
structured on the basis of her faith as a community which the State must
recognize. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated.

Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics.
Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public
life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very
nature has to do with ethics. The State must inevitably face the
question of how justice can be achieved here and now. But this
presupposes an even more radical question: what is justice? The problem
is one of practical reason; but if reason is to be exercised properly,
it must undergo constant purification, since it can never be completely
free of the danger of a certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling
effect of power and special interests.

Here politics and faith meet. Faith by its specific nature is an
encounter with the living God—an encounter opening up new horizons
extending beyond the sphere of reason. But it is also a purifying force
for reason itself. From God's standpoint, faith liberates reason from
its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself.
Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its
proper object more clearly. This is where Catholic social doctrine has
its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the
State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share
the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith. Its aim
is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the
acknowledgment and attainment of what is just.

The Church's social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural
law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every
human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church's responsibility to
make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes
to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater
insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater
readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with
situations of personal interest. Building a just social and civil order,
wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential
task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this
cannot be the Church's immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a
most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer,
through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her
own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of
justice and achieving them politically.

The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to
bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not
replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain
on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part
through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy
without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail
and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of
the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about
openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something
which concerns the Church deeply.

b) Love—caritas—will always prove necessary, even in the most just
society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate
the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is
preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which
cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness.
There will always be situations of material need where help in the form
of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable.[20] The State which
would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would
ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very
thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving
personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls
everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of
subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising
from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness
to those in need. The Church is one of those living forces: she is alive
with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not
simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their
souls, something which often is even more necessary than material
support. In the end, the claim that just social structures would make
works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the
mistaken notion that man can live “by bread alone” (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt
8:3)—a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is
specifically human.

29. We can now determine more precisely, in the life of the Church, the
relationship between commitment to the just ordering of the State and
society on the one hand, and organized charitable activity on the other.
We have seen that the formation of just structures is not directly the
duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of
the autonomous use of reason. The Church has an indirect duty here, in
that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to
the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are
neither established nor prove effective in the long run.

The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other
hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are
called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. So they
cannot relinquish their participation “in the many different economic,
social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are
intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good.”
[21] The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social
life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with
other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling
their own responsibility.[22] Even if the specific expressions of
ecclesial charity can never be confused with the activity of the State,
it still remains true that charity must animate the entire lives of the
lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as
“social charity”.[23]

The Church's charitable organizations, on the other hand, constitute an
opus proprium, a task agreeable to her, in which she does not cooperate
collaterally, but acts as a subject with direct responsibility, doing
what corresponds to her nature. The Church can never be exempted from
practising charity as an organized activity of believers, and on the
other hand, there will never be a situation where the charity of each
individual Christian is unnecessary, because in addition to justice man
needs, and will always need, love.

The multiple structures of charitable service in the social context of
the present day

30. Before attempting to define the specific profile of the Church's
activities in the service of man, I now wish to consider the overall
situation of the struggle for justice and love in the world of today.

a) Today the means of mass communication have made our planet smaller,
rapidly narrowing the distance between different peoples and cultures.
This “togetherness” at times gives rise to misunderstandings and
tensions, yet our ability to know almost instantly about the needs of
others challenges us to share their situation and their difficulties.
Despite the great advances made in science and technology, each day we
see how much suffering there is in the world on account of different
kinds of poverty, both material and spiritual. Our times call for a new
readiness to assist our neighbours in need. The Second Vatican Council
had made this point very clearly: “Now that, through better means of
communication, distances between peoples have been almost eliminated,
charitable activity can and should embrace all people and all

On the other hand—and here we see one of the challenging yet also
positive sides of the process of globalization—we now have at our
disposal numerous means for offering humanitarian assistance to our
brothers and sisters in need, not least modern systems of distributing
food and clothing, and of providing housing and care. Concern for our
neighbour transcends the confines of national communities and has
increasingly broadened its horizon to the whole world. The Second
Vatican Council rightly observed that “among the signs of our times, one
particularly worthy of note is a growing, inescapable sense of
solidarity between all peoples.”[25] State agencies and humanitarian
associations work to promote this, the former mainly through subsidies
or tax relief, the latter by making available considerable resources.
The solidarity shown by civil society thus significantly surpasses that
shown by individuals.

b) This situation has led to the birth and the growth of many forms of
cooperation between State and Church agencies, which have borne fruit.
Church agencies, with their transparent operation and their faithfulness
to the duty of witnessing to love, are able to give a Christian quality
to the civil agencies too, favouring a mutual coordination that can only
redound to the effectiveness of charitable service.[26] Numerous
organizations for charitable or philanthropic purposes have also been
established and these are committed to achieving adequate humanitarian
solutions to the social and political problems of the day.
Significantly, our time has also seen the growth and spread of different
kinds of volunteer work, which assume responsibility for providing a
variety of services.[27] I wish here to offer a special word of
gratitude and appreciation to all those who take part in these
activities in whatever way. For young people, this widespread
involvement constitutes a school of life which offers them a formation
in solidarity and in readiness to offer others not simply material aid
but their very selves. The anti-culture of death, which finds expression
for example in drug use, is thus countered by an unselfish love which
shows itself to be a culture of life by the very willingness to “lose
itself” (cf. Lk 17:33 et passim) for others.

In the Catholic Church, and also in the other Churches and Ecclesial
Communities, new forms of charitable activity have arisen, while other,
older ones have taken on new life and energy. In these new forms, it is
often possible to establish a fruitful link between evangelization and
works of charity. Here I would clearly reaffirm what my great
predecessor John Paul II wrote in his Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei
Socialis [28] when he asserted the readiness of the Catholic Church to
cooperate with the charitable agencies of these Churches and
Communities, since we all have the same fundamental motivation and look
towards the same goal: a true humanism, which acknowledges that man is
made in the image of God and wants to help him to live in a way
consonant with that dignity. His Encyclical Ut Unum Sint emphasized that
the building of a better world requires Christians to speak with a
united voice in working to inculcate “respect for the rights and needs
of everyone, especially the poor, the lowly and the defenceless.” [29]
Here I would like to express my satisfaction that this appeal has found
a wide resonance in numerous initiatives throughout the world.

The distinctiveness of the Church's charitable activity

31. The increase in diversified organizations engaged in meeting various
human needs is ultimately due to the fact that the command of love of
neighbour is inscribed by the Creator in man's very nature. It is also a
result of the presence of Christianity in the world, since Christianity
constantly revives and acts out this imperative, so often profoundly
obscured in the course of time. The reform of paganism attempted by the
emperor Julian the Apostate is only an initial example of this effect;
here we see how the power of Christianity spread well beyond the
frontiers of the Christian faith. For this reason, it is very important
that the Church's charitable activity maintains all of its splendour and
does not become just another form of social assistance. So what are the
essential elements of Christian and ecclesial charity?

a) Following the example given in the parable of the Good Samaritan,
Christian charity is first of all the simple response to immediate needs
and specific situations: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring
for and healing the sick, visiting those in prison, etc. The Church's
charitable organizations, beginning with those of Caritas (at diocesan,
national and international levels), ought to do everything in their
power to provide the resources and above all the personnel needed for
this work. Individuals who care for those in need must first be
professionally competent: they should be properly trained in what to do
and how to do it, and committed to continuing care. Yet, while
professional competence is a primary, fundamental requirement, it is not
of itself sufficient. We are dealing with human beings, and human beings
always need something more than technically proper care. They need
humanity. They need heartfelt concern. Those who work for the Church's
charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do
not merely meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to
others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness
of their humanity. Consequently, in addition to their necessary
professional training, these charity workers need a “formation of the
heart”: they need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ which
awakens their love and opens their spirits to others. As a result, love
of neighbour will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to
speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a
faith which becomes active through love (cf. Gal 5:6).

b) Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and
ideologies. It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and
it is not at the service of worldly stratagems, but it is a way of
making present here and now the love which man always needs. The modern
age, particularly from the nineteenth century on, has been dominated by
various versions of a philosophy of progress whose most radical form is
Marxism. Part of Marxist strategy is the theory of impoverishment: in a
situation of unjust power, it is claimed, anyone who engages in
charitable initiatives is actually serving that unjust system, making it
appear at least to some extent tolerable. This in turn slows down a
potential revolution and thus blocks the struggle for a better world.
Seen in this way, charity is rejected and attacked as a means of
preserving the status quo. What we have here, though, is really an
inhuman philosophy. People of the present are sacrificed to the moloch
of the future—a future whose effective realization is at best doubtful.
One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here
and now. We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good
now, with full commitment and wherever we have the opportunity,
independently of partisan strategies and programmes. The Christian's
programme —the programme of the Good Samaritan, the programme of
Jesus—is “a heart which sees”. This heart sees where love is needed and
acts accordingly. Obviously when charitable activity is carried out by
the Church as a communitarian initiative, the spontaneity of individuals
must be combined with planning, foresight and cooperation with other
similar institutions.

c) Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what
is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practised as
a way of achieving other ends.[30] But this does not mean that
charitable activity must somehow leave God and Christ aside. For it is
always concerned with the whole man. Often the deepest cause of
suffering is the very absence of God. Those who practise charity in the
Church's name will never seek to impose the Church's faith upon others.
They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the
God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian
knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say
nothing and to let love alone speak. He knows that God is love (cf. 1 Jn
4:8) and that God's presence is felt at the very time when the only
thing we do is to love. He knows—to return to the questions raised
earlier—that disdain for love is disdain for God and man alike; it is an
attempt to do without God. Consequently, the best defence of God and man
consists precisely in love. It is the responsibility of the Church's
charitable organizations to reinforce this awareness in their members,
so that by their activity—as well as their words, their silence, their
example—they may be credible witnesses to Christ.

Those responsible for the Church's charitable activity

32. Finally, we must turn our attention once again to those who are
responsible for carrying out the Church's charitable activity. As our
preceding reflections have made clear, the true subject of the various
Catholic organizations that carry out a ministry of charity is the
Church herself—at all levels, from the parishes, through the particular
Churches, to the universal Church. For this reason it was most opportune
that my venerable predecessor Paul VI established the Pontifical Council
Cor Unum as the agency of the Holy See responsible for orienting and
coordinating the organizations and charitable activities promoted by the
Catholic Church. In conformity with the episcopal structure of the
Church, the Bishops, as successors of the Apostles, are charged with
primary responsibility for carrying out in the particular Churches the
programme set forth in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-44): today as
in the past, the Church as God's family must be a place where help is
given and received, and at the same time, a place where people are also
prepared to serve those outside her confines who are in need of help. In
the rite of episcopal ordination, prior to the act of consecration
itself, the candidate must respond to several questions which express
the essential elements of his office and recall the duties of his future
ministry. He promises expressly to be, in the Lord's name, welcoming and
merciful to the poor and to all those in need of consolation and
assistance.[31] The Code of Canon Law, in the canons on the ministry of
the Bishop, does not expressly mention charity as a specific sector of
episcopal activity, but speaks in general terms of the Bishop's
responsibility for coordinating the different works of the apostolate
with due regard for their proper character.[32] Recently, however, the
Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops explored more
specifically the duty of charity as a responsibility incumbent upon the
whole Church and upon each Bishop in his Diocese,[33] and it emphasized
that the exercise of charity is an action of the Church as such, and
that, like the ministry of Word and Sacrament, it too has been an
essential part of her mission from the very beginning.[34]

33. With regard to the personnel who carry out the Church's charitable
activity on the practical level, the essential has already been said:
they must not be inspired by ideologies aimed at improving the world,
but should rather be guided by the faith which works through love (cf.
Gal 5:6). Consequently, more than anything, they must be persons moved
by Christ's love, persons whose hearts Christ has conquered with his
love, awakening within them a love of neighbour. The criterion inspiring
their activity should be Saint Paul's statement in the Second Letter to
the Corinthians: “the love of Christ urges us on” (5:14). The
consciousness that, in Christ, God has given himself for us, even unto
death, must inspire us to live no longer for ourselves but for him, and,
with him, for others. Whoever loves Christ loves the Church, and desires
the Church to be increasingly the image and instrument of the love which
flows from Christ. The personnel of every Catholic charitable
organization want to work with the Church and therefore with the Bishop,
so that the love of God can spread throughout the world. By their
sharing in the Church's practice of love, they wish to be witnesses of
God and of Christ, and they wish for this very reason freely to do good
to all.

34. Interior openness to the Catholic dimension of the Church cannot
fail to dispose charity workers to work in harmony with other
organizations in serving various forms of need, but in a way that
respects what is distinctive about the service which Christ requested of
his disciples. Saint Paul, in his hymn to charity (cf. 1 Cor 13),
teaches us that it is always more than activity alone: “If I give away
all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love,
I gain nothing” (v. 3). This hymn must be the Magna Carta of all
ecclesial service; it sums up all the reflections on love which I have
offered throughout this Encyclical Letter. Practical activity will
always be insufficient, unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a
love nourished by an encounter with Christ. My deep personal sharing in
the needs and sufferings of others becomes a sharing of my very self
with them: if my gift is not to prove a source of humiliation, I must
give to others not only something that is my own, but my very self; I
must be personally present in my gift.

35. This proper way of serving others also leads to humility. The one
who serves does not consider himself superior to the one served, however
miserable his situation at the moment may be. Christ took the lowest
place in the world—the Cross—and by this radical humility he redeemed us
and constantly comes to our aid. Those who are in a position to help
others will realize that in doing so they themselves receive help; being
able to help others is no merit or achievement of their own. This duty
is a grace. The more we do for others, the more we understand and can
appropriate the words of Christ: “We are useless servants” (Lk 17:10).
We recognize that we are not acting on the basis of any superiority or
greater personal efficiency, but because the Lord has graciously enabled
us to do so. There are times when the burden of need and our own
limitations might tempt us to become discouraged. But precisely then we
are helped by the knowledge that, in the end, we are only instruments in
the Lord's hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of
thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better
world. In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we
will entrust the rest to the Lord. It is God who governs the world, not
we. We offer him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as
long as he grants us the strength. To do all we can with what strength
we have, however, is the task which keeps the good servant of Jesus
Christ always at work: “The love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14).

36. When we consider the immensity of others' needs, we can, on the one
hand, be driven towards an ideology that would aim at doing what God's
governance of the world apparently cannot: fully resolving every
problem. Or we can be tempted to give in to inertia, since it would seem
that in any event nothing can be accomplished. At such times, a living
relationship with Christ is decisive if we are to keep on the right
path, without falling into an arrogant contempt for man, something not
only unconstructive but actually destructive, or surrendering to a
resignation which would prevent us from being guided by love in the
service of others. Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from
Christ, is concretely and urgently needed. People who pray are not
wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and
seems to call for action alone. Piety does not undermine the struggle
against the poverty of our neighbours, however extreme. In the example
of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta we have a clear illustration of the fact
that time devoted to God in prayer not only does not detract from
effective and loving service to our neighbour but is in fact the
inexhaustible source of that service. In her letter for Lent 1996,
Blessed Teresa wrote to her lay co-workers: “We need this deep
connection with God in our daily life. How can we obtain it? By prayer”.

37. It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the
activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in
charitable work. Clearly, the Christian who prays does not claim to be
able to change God's plans or correct what he has foreseen. Rather, he
seeks an encounter with the Father of Jesus Christ, asking God to be
present with the consolation of the Spirit to him and his work. A
personal relationship with God and an abandonment to his will can
prevent man from being demeaned and save him from falling prey to the
teaching of fanaticism and terrorism. An authentically religious
attitude prevents man from presuming to judge God, accusing him of
allowing poverty and failing to have compassion for his creatures. When
people claim to build a case against God in defence of man, on whom can
they depend when human activity proves powerless?

38. Certainly Job could complain before God about the presence of
incomprehensible and apparently unjustified suffering in the world. In
his pain he cried out: “Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I
might come even to his seat! ... I would learn what he would answer me,
and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the
greatness of his power? ... Therefore I am terrified at his presence;
when I consider, I am in dread of him. God has made my heart faint; the
Almighty has terrified me” (23:3, 5-6, 15-16). Often we cannot
understand why God refrains from intervening. Yet he does not prevent us
from crying out, like Jesus on the Cross: “My God, my God, why have you
forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). We should continue asking this question in
prayerful dialogue before his face: “Lord, holy and true, how long will
it be?” (Rev 6:10). It is Saint Augustine who gives us faith's answer to
our sufferings: “Si comprehendis, non est Deus”—”if you understand him,
he is not God.” [35] Our protest is not meant to challenge God, or to
suggest that error, weakness or indifference can be found in him. For
the believer, it is impossible to imagine that God is powerless or that
“perhaps he is asleep” (cf. 1 Kg 18:27). Instead, our crying out is, as
it was for Jesus on the Cross, the deepest and most radical way of
affirming our faith in his sovereign power. Even in their bewilderment
and failure to understand the world around them, Christians continue to
believe in the “goodness and loving kindness of God” (Tit 3:4). Immersed
like everyone else in the dramatic complexity of historical events, they
remain unshakably certain that God is our Father and loves us, even when
his silence remains incomprehensible.

39. Faith, hope and charity go together. Hope is practised through the
virtue of patience, which continues to do good even in the face of
apparent failure, and through the virtue of humility, which accepts
God's mystery and trusts him even at times of darkness. Faith tells us
that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious
certainty that it is really true: God is love! It thus transforms our
impatience and our doubts into the sure hope that God holds the world in
his hands and that, as the dramatic imagery of the end of the Book of
Revelation points out, in spite of all darkness he ultimately triumphs
in glory. Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced
heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love. Love is the light—and
in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim
and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is
possible, and we are able to practise it because we are created in the
image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of
God to enter into the world—this is the invitation I would like to
extend with the present Encyclical.


40. Finally, let us consider the saints, who exercised charity in an
exemplary way. Our thoughts turn especially to Martin of Tours († 397),
the soldier who became a monk and a bishop: he is almost like an icon,
illustrating the irreplaceable value of the individual testimony to
charity. At the gates of Amiens, Martin gave half of his cloak to a poor
man: Jesus himself, that night, appeared to him in a dream wearing that
cloak, confirming the permanent validity of the Gospel saying: “I was
naked and you clothed me ... as you did it to one of the least of these
my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:36, 40).[36] Yet in the history of
the Church, how many other testimonies to charity could be quoted! In
particular, the entire monastic movement, from its origins with Saint
Anthony the Abbot († 356), expresses an immense service of charity
towards neighbour. In his encounter “face to face” with the God who is
Love, the monk senses the impelling need to transform his whole life
into service of neighbour, in addition to service of God. This explains
the great emphasis on hospitality, refuge and care of the infirm in the
vicinity of the monasteries. It also explains the immense initiatives of
human welfare and Christian formation, aimed above all at the very poor,
who became the object of care firstly for the monastic and mendicant
orders, and later for the various male and female religious institutes
all through the history of the Church. The figures of saints such as
Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, John of God, Camillus of Lellis,
Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Giuseppe B. Cottolengo, John Bosco,
Luigi Orione, Teresa of Calcutta to name but a few—stand out as lasting
models of social charity for all people of good will. The saints are the
true bearers of light within history, for they are men and women of
faith, hope and love.

41. Outstanding among the saints is Mary, Mother of the Lord and mirror
of all holiness. In the Gospel of Luke we find her engaged in a service
of charity to her cousin Elizabeth, with whom she remained for “about
three months” (1:56) so as to assist her in the final phase of her
pregnancy. “Magnificat anima mea Dominum”, she says on the occasion of
that visit, “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk 1:46). In these words she
expresses her whole programme of life: not setting herself at the
centre, but leaving space for God, who is encountered both in prayer and
in service of neighbour—only then does goodness enter the world. Mary's
greatness consists in the fact that she wants to magnify God, not
herself. She is lowly: her only desire is to be the handmaid of the Lord
(cf. Lk 1:38, 48). She knows that she will only contribute to the
salvation of the world if, rather than carrying out her own projects,
she places herself completely at the disposal of God's initiatives. Mary
is a woman of hope: only because she believes in God's promises and
awaits the salvation of Israel, can the angel visit her and call her to
the decisive service of these promises. Mary is a woman of faith:
“Blessed are you who believed”, Elizabeth says to her (cf. Lk 1:45). The
Magnificat—a portrait, so to speak, of her soul—is entirely woven from
threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the Word of God. Here we
see how completely at home Mary is with the Word of God, with ease she
moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the Word of God; the
Word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the Word of God.
Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her
will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with
the Word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate.
Finally, Mary is a woman who loves. How could it be otherwise? As a
believer who in faith thinks with God's thoughts and wills with God's
will, she cannot fail to be a woman who loves. We sense this in her
quiet gestures, as recounted by the infancy narratives in the Gospel. We
see it in the delicacy with which she recognizes the need of the spouses
at Cana and makes it known to Jesus. We see it in the humility with
which she recedes into the background during Jesus' public life, knowing
that the Son must establish a new family and that the Mother's hour will
come only with the Cross, which will be Jesus' true hour (cf. Jn 2:4;
13:1). When the disciples flee, Mary will remain beneath the Cross (cf.
Jn 19:25-27); later, at the hour of Pentecost, it will be they who
gather around her as they wait for the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14).

42. The lives of the saints are not limited to their earthly biographies
but also include their being and working in God after death. In the
saints one thing becomes clear: those who draw near to God do not
withdraw from men, but rather become truly close to them. In no one do
we see this more clearly than in Mary. The words addressed by the
crucified Lord to his disciple—to John and through him to all disciples
of Jesus: “Behold, your mother!” (Jn 19:27)—are fulfilled anew in every
generation. Mary has truly become the Mother of all believers. Men and
women of every time and place have recourse to her motherly kindness and
her virginal purity and grace, in all their needs and aspirations, their
joys and sorrows, their moments of loneliness and their common
endeavours. They constantly experience the gift of her goodness and the
unfailing love which she pours out from the depths of her heart. The
testimonials of gratitude, offered to her from every continent and
culture, are a recognition of that pure love which is not self- seeking
but simply benevolent. At the same time, the devotion of the faithful
shows an infallible intuition of how such love is possible: it becomes
so as a result of the most intimate union with God, through which the
soul is totally pervaded by him—a condition which enables those who have
drunk from the fountain of God's love to become in their turn a fountain
from which “flow rivers of living water” (Jn 7:38). Mary, Virgin and
Mother, shows us what love is and whence it draws its origin and its
constantly renewed power. To her we entrust the Church and her mission
in the service of love:

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
you have given the world its true light,
Jesus, your Son – the Son of God.
You abandoned yourself completely
to God's call
and thus became a wellspring
of the goodness which flows forth from him.
Show us Jesus. Lead us to him.
Teach us to know and love him,
so that we too can become
capable of true love
and be fountains of living water
in the midst of a thirsting world.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on 25 December, the Solemnity of the
Nativity of the Lord, in the year 2005, the first of my Pontificate.


[1] Cf. Jenseits von Gut und Böse, IV, 168.

[2] X, 69.

[3] Cf. R. Descartes, Œuvres, ed. V. Cousin, vol. 12, Paris 1824, pp.

[4] II, 5: SCh 381, 196.

[5] Ibid., 198.

[6] Cf. Metaphysics, XII, 7.

[7] Cf. Ps.-Dionysius the Areopagite, who in his treatise The Divine
Names, IV, 12-14: PG 3, 709-713 calls God both eros and agape.

[8] Plato, Symposium, XIV-XV, 189c-192d.

[9] Sallust, De coniuratione Catilinae, XX, 4.

[10] Cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, III, 6, 11: CCL 27, 32.

[11] De Trinitate, VIII, 8, 12: CCL 50, 287.

[12] Cf. I Apologia, 67: PG 6, 429.

[13] Cf. Apologeticum, 39, 7: PL 1, 468.

[14] Ep. ad Rom., Inscr: PG 5, 801.

[15] Cf. Saint Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum, II, 28, 140: PL 16,

[16] Cf. Ep. 83: J. Bidez, L'Empereur Julien. Œuvres complètes, Paris
19602, v. I, 2a, p. 145.

[17] Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry
of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), 194, Vatican City
2004, p. 213.

[18] De Civitate Dei, IV, 4: CCL 47, 102.

[19] Cf. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium
et Spes, 36.

[20] Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry
of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), 197, Vatican City
2004, p. 217.

[21] John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles
Laici (30 December 1988), 42: AAS 81 (1989), 472.

[22] Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on
Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political
Life (24 November 2002), 1: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 22
January 2003, p. 5.

[23] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1939.

[24] Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam Actuositatem, 8.

[25] Ibid., 14.

[26] Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry
of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), 195, Vatican City
2004, pp. 214-216.

[27] Cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles
Laici (30 December 1988), 41: AAS 81 (1989), 470-472.

[28] Cf. No. 32: AAS 80 (1988), 556.

[29] No. 43: AAS 87 (1995), 946.

[30] Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry
of Bishops Apostolorum Successores (22 February 2004), 196, Vatican City
2004, p. 216.

[31] Cf. Pontificale Romanum, De ordinatione episcopi, 43.

[32] Cf. can. 394; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 203.

[33] Cf. Nos. 193-198: pp. 212-219.

[34] Ibid., 194: pp. 213-214.

[35] Sermo 52, 16: PL 38, 360.

[36] Cf. Sulpicius Severus, Vita Sancti Martini, 3, 1-3: SCh 133,

© Copyright 2005 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
2006-01-28 17:35:20 UTC
“God is
the physics of the universe.

you blew it.
Charles D. Bohne
2006-01-28 19:19:35 UTC
Post by http://peaceinspace.com
Post by Charles D. Bohne™
“God is
the physics of the universe.
you blew it.
Talk to the Holy See (http://www.vatican.va/)


or is it:
2006-01-28 20:03:07 UTC
Post by http://peaceinspace.com
“God is
the physics of the universe.
you blew it.
No. <snip>

Art Deco
2006-01-29 17:37:35 UTC
Post by http://peaceinspace.com
Post by http://peaceinspace.com
“God is
the physics of the universe.
you blew it.
No. <snip>
Official Associate AFA-B Vote Rustler
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"Causation of gravity is missing frame field always attempting
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"Classic unsubstantiated and erroneous claim, and rather ironic, coming from
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-- David Tholen, Clueless Newbie of the Month, February 2003
Art Deco
2006-01-29 17:43:21 UTC
Post by Charles D. Bohne™
Post by Sir Gilligan Horry
I always click on your links, and read your kind posts.
Although, for once, I'm not going to click on that link.
Where is your problem? It's fine stuff and makes a
Well done, Chu*k, 1500 lines of screed.

Official Associate AFA-B Vote Rustler
Official Overseer of Kooks and Saucerheads in alt.astronomy
Co-Winner, alt.(f)lame Worst Flame War, December 2005

"Causation of gravity is missing frame field always attempting
renormalization back to base memory of equalized uniform momentum."
-- nightbat the saucerhead-in-chief

"Have patience. First I shall deal with the State of Oregon
and County of Josephine, Then the AFAB, government/media
disinformation Agents with whom you conspire to libel me and my
family. Your time will come."
-- Raymond Ronald Karczewski©, usenet "christ"

"Classic unsubstantiated and erroneous claim, and rather ironic, coming from
someone who obviously has no understanding of what a signature is. Tell me,
Haslam, do you sign your checks as 'Can't you show a little restraint?'"
-- David Tholen, Clueless Newbie of the Month, February 2003
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