THE president of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has spoken of his “deep sorrow” following the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
In a message, given ahead of the former Pope’s funeral on Thursday (5th January), Cardinal Mauro Piacenza recalled Benedict’s deep concern for ACN’s work and his 2011 decision to raise the charity to the status of a pontifical foundation.
The prelate, who was appointed president of ACN by Benedict XVI, said the former pontiff’s teaching on charity, notably in his 2006 encyclical Deus Caritas Est, “has been very valuable to ACN”.
Cardinal Piacenza said the encyclical’s thinking had strengthened the mission of ACN, which, the prelate noted, “is completely taken up with charity, so as to help the suffering Church”.
And Dr Thomas Heine-Geldern, international executive president of ACN, said:
“[The] power of the faith Pope Benedict spoke can be experienced by ACN every year in the hundreds of thousands of donations that make it possible to help strengthen the Church and the Faith in the world.”
During his travels, Pope Benedict encountered ACN’s work in action, for example in Brazil in 2007 where he visited the Fazenda de Esperança (Farm of Hope) drug rehabilitation centre supported by the charity.
That same year, Pope Benedict marked the 60th anniversary of ACN by asking the charity to “be assured of [his] prayers and gratitude for your work, which is an eloquent testimony to the love of God”.
In 2002, when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said: “I support [ACN] because I know it is really doing a service to faith.
“Many think that you can only support social work in the narrow sense of the word, that you should leave it up to each person what they believe.
“But in reality, nothing is more important than bringing God to people, helping them to find Christ, because only then do the powers of faith awaken, which are the decisive form of energy for world history.
“[ACN] meets the need for faith, and thereby does what is most necessary for our world.”
Cardinal Piacenza called on ACN – including beneficiaries – to pray for the Pope Emeritus and for the whole Church to pass on Benedict’s message through works of charity.