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2447. "The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.
2448. "In its various forms—material deprivation, unjust
oppression, physical and psychological illness and death—human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of
frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of
original sin. This misery elicited the compassion of Christ the Savior, who
willingly took it upon himself and identified himself with the least of his
brethren. Hence, those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the
Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her
members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation
through numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always and everywhere."
184. The Church's love for the poor is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, by the poverty of Jesus and by his attention to the poor. This love concerns material poverty and also the numerous forms of cultural and religious poverty. The Church, "since her origin and in spite of the failing of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defence and liberation through numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always and everywhere"… with countless works of corporal and spiritual mercy. "Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God", even if the practice of charity is not limited to alms-giving but implies addressing the social and political dimensions of the problem of poverty. In her teaching the Church constantly returns to this relationship between charity and justice: "When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice..."
208. Social and political charity is not
exhausted in relationships between individuals but spreads into the network
formed by these relationships, which is precisely the social and political
community; it intervenes in this context seeking the greatest good for the
community in its entirety.
In so many aspects the neighbour to be loved is found "in society", such
that to love him concretely, assist him in his needs or in his indigence may
mean something different ...It is undoubtedly an act of love, the work of mercy
by which one responds here and now to a real and impelling need of one's
neighbour, but it is an equally indispensable act of love to strive to
organize and structure society so that one's neighbour will not find
himself in poverty, above all when this becomes a situation within which an
immense number of people and entire populations must struggle, and when it
takes on the proportions of a true worldwide social issue.
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