The act of charity “is not just giving alms to clear your conscience, it includes loving attention towards the other”. Pope Francis said it during the audience given to the participants of Cor Unum Congress, ten years after Benedict XVI’s Encyclical “Deus caritas est“. Bergoglio has pointed out that “received and given charity is the cornerstone of the history of the Church and of every single individual.” “Charity is therefore at the center of the Church’s life – he added – it is truly its heart, St. Theresa said about Child Jesus. Jesus words, according to which charity is the first and highest of all commandments, are true both for the single believer and for the Christian community as a whole”. The Jubilee Year we are experiencing, he said, is also an opportunity to return to this beating heart of our lives and of our witness, at the core of proclamation of faith: God is love.”
The Pontiff explained that God “does not simply have the desire or the ability to love; God is charity: charity is His essence, His very nature.” He “is unique, but not solitary; he cannot be on his own, he cannot close up in Himself, because He is communion, He is charity, and charity – due to its nature – is communicated and spread. Thus, God associates man in his love life, and even if man turns away from Him, God does not stay away, but walks towards him.” Charity and mercy, he emphasized, “are so closely related because they are the way of being and acting of God: His identity and His name.”
Ratzinger’s encyclical “reminds us that this charity wants to be reflected more and more in the life of the Church. How I wish that everyone in the Church, every institution, every activity proved that God loves man.” The Pope continued: “The mission carried on by our charitable organizations is important because it allows many poor people to approach a more dignified and human life, and this is more necessary than ever; but this mission is very important because it can make people feel loved by God, make them feel His children destined to eternal life not merely on words, but through concrete love.