God will judge people on care for the poor, for the planet, pope says

Pope Francis uses incense as he celebrates a Mass for the opening of the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis in St. Peter's Basilica. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis uses incense as he celebrates a Mass for the opening of the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis in St. Peter’s Basilica. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The powerful of the earth will face God’s judgment and will be asked to account for how they cared for the poor and how they cared for the environment so that it could produce food for all, Pope Francis said.

“The planet has enough food for all, but it seems that there is a lack of willingness to share it with everyone,” Pope Francis said May 12 during his homily at a Mass opening the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis.

The network of 164 Catholic charities — who were to welcome Caritas South Sudan as the confederation’s 165th member — was to focus on the theme, “One Human Family, Caring for Creation.”

Pope Francis told the delegates, “We ought to set the table for all and ask that there be a table for all.”

Citing Jesus’ explanation of the final judgment in the Gospel of Matthew, which includes the line, “For I was hungry and you gave me food,” the pope said, “we must do what we can so that everyone has something to eat. But we must also remind the powerful of the earth that God will call them to judgment one day, and it will be seen if they truly tried to provide food for him in every person, and if they worked so that the environment would not be destroyed, but could produce this food.”

The work of Caritas in parishes, dioceses, nations and across the globe draws its strength from love of God and neighbor, the pope said. “Without this root, Caritas dies.”

“All of our strategies and plans remain empty unless we carry this love in us,” he said. “Not our love, but his. Or better yet, our love purified and strengthened by his love.”

Adding to his prepared text and its call for further development of Caritas on the parish level, Pope Francis said every Caritas organization, large or small, is equal.

And he asked people to pray for “the grace not to fall into the trap of thinking that a well-organized centralization is the path to follow, the grace to understand Caritas is always on the periphery in every local church, and the grace to know the central office is there for assistance, service and to promote communion — but it is not everyone’s boss.”

Caritas agencies assist the poor, promote development, advocate for justice and assist refugees around the world. Pope Francis asked them at the Mass to be especially mindful of “our Christian brothers and sisters who have been violently deprived of food for the body and for the soul: They have been driven from their homes and their churches, which at times have been destroyed. I renew my appeal not to forget these people and these intolerable injustices.”

The Christian faith, he said, is a call “to wash the feet and bathe the wounds of the suffering and to prepare a table for them.”

Belief in God and assisting others go hand in hand, he said. Faith is “to welcome God and express this in service to our brothers and sisters. Word, sacraments and service lead to and nourish each other.”

“Whoever lives the mission of Caritas is not simply a charity worker,” the pope said, “but is a true witness of Christ, one who seeks Christ and allows Christ to seek him, one who loves with the spirit of Christ, which is a spirit of gratuitousness and giving. All of our strategies and plans remain empty unless we carry this love in us.”

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