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Abstract

Meghan Clark discusses the relationship between charity and justice as set forth in two of Benedict XVI’s encyclicals, Deus Caritas Est and Caritas in Veritate, and then considers what Vincentian tradition contributes toward the understanding of that relationship. Clark writes, “What emerges is a model of cultivating solidarity through justice and charity as integral to the life of Christian discipleship.” Deus Caritas Est calls for direct service to those in need because it is only through charity and loving others that we are fully aware of God’s love for us. As Clark summarizes Caritas in Veritate, “Justice in relations is a precondition for living charity. . . . Both charity and justice are required for healthy relationships with God and neighbor.” Justice and charity require work toward the common good, and charity expands justice to include the marginalized. Clark defines the institutional nature of charity in the Church and explains how Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, and their communities exemplify it. Vincent and Louise recognized that effective charity required organized personal and institutional responses to systemic injustice. Vincentian tradition seeks to foster solidarity through commitment to each person’s dignity and to nurture justice within all levels of society.

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