Don't turn faith into ideology, charity into philanthropy, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

follow the path of Christ means to serve the poor and the downtrodden while not turning Christian
virtues simply into ideas and humanitarian endeavors, Pope Francis said.

“In them, you touch and
serve the flesh of Christ and grow in union with him, while always keeping watch so that faith does
not become an ideology and charity is not reduced to philanthropy so that the
church doesn’t end up becoming an NGO,” the pope told members of the general chapter of
the Little Work of Divine Providence May 27.

Founded by St. Luigi Orione,
the order is comprised of two religious congregations — the Orionine Fathers and the
Little Missionary Sisters of Charity — who care primarily for the sick, the elderly and
people with learning disabilities.

The pope encouraged the
religious congregations to follow the example of their founder, who sought to
heal the wounds of people
in need of “bread for the body and the divine consolation of

“With Don Orione, I also
exhort you to not remain closed in your surroundings, but to go out. There is
much need of priests and religious who do not remain solely in charitable
institutions — albeit necessary — but who also know how to go beyond their
own boundaries in order to bring to every environment, even the most distant, the perfume of
Christ’s charity,” the pope said.

Pope Francis also called on
them to not lose sight of the “church’s mission to bring God’s mercy to
all without distinction.”

Their service to the church,
he said, will be all the more effective by taking care of their personal
commitment to Christ and their own spiritual formation.

By “giving a witness to
the beauty” of consecrated life, the Little Work of Divine Providence can
offer an example of the “good life of the religious servants of Christ and
the poor,” especially to younger generations, the pope said.

“Life begets life; a
holy and happy religious person can inspire new vocations,” Pope Francis

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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