Who versus What

The liturgical year will end in a few weeks with the feast of Christ the King.

The Person who heads the Church is Jesus Christ. His representative on earth, his Vicar, is the pope, the successor to Saint Peter. One could posit that if the ‘personhood of the universal Church is embodied in any one individual it would be in this chief shepherd.

In the modern world the religious imagery of a kingdom, as in ‘Thy kingdom come,” may seem odd since it refers to a system of social organization long since extinct in most parts of the world. For Christians, however, and for others fortunate to have their religious perspectives rooted in that First Covenant God has made with his Chosen People, ‘kingdom’ connotes not a system of governance so much as an enlightened and sanctified community. It is a community guided by Love and Truth.

This guiding Love and Truth is not an idea or a rule, or even an amendable constitution; rather it is a personal God. Perhaps for this reason the imagery is still effective, for over this everlasting community to which we all aspire would we not prefer to have in charge “someone” rather than “something,” a ruler instead of a rule?

Perhaps it is this power of personhood, this being drawn to the ‘who’ more than to the ‘what’ of Truth that prompts philanthropists to join The Papal Foundation (www.thepapalfoundation.com). There are, of course, countless individuals who, blessed with material wealth, want to share their good fortune with those in need. Many of these are consciously motivated by the Christian imperative of charity and, as a consequence, are very generous, especially in their support of the works of the Church. Among this latter group are the Stewards of Saint Peter.

The Person who heads the Church is Jesus Christ. His representative on earth, his Vicar, is the pope, the successor to Saint Peter. One could posit that if the ‘personhood of the universal Church is embodied in any one individual it would be in this chief shepherd.

The Stewards of Saint Peter is a group of individual philanthropists in the United States – now around 120 in number and growing – who are drawn to this personhood and who choose to collaborate with the Holy See in the exercise of their philanthropy. As members of the Papal Foundation, they pledge financial support over a period of time for the charitable and evangelical projects of paramount interest to the Pope. These projects are implemented around the globe and bring hope and sustenance to the poorest of the poor by meeting their material and spiritual needs.

The group assembles twice each year, once in Washington and once in Rome where members enjoy a private papal audience.

The Papal Foundation was created 20 years ago by several prominent members of the American hierarchy including Cardinals Krol and O’Connor. Cardinal Krol charted the course for the new organization and with the advice and guidance of Archbishop (now Cardinal) McCarrick saw to it that the new endowment would be managed in the United States and would be marked by credibility and accountability.

Lay leaders, with some of the most accomplished legal, financial and commercial minds in the country, committed to the cause. With their help and under the guidance of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees the endowment has grown substantially.

Some of the founding cardinals are no longer with us. However, the seeds they planted will continue to bear great fruit for the responsible and collaborative philanthropy so critical for the advance of the Kingdom.

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2 Comments

  1. God bless the generous hearts of many who wish to share from their bounty. I minister in a place of miracles…where Jesus’ transforming love brings change to the hearts and minds of homeless women who are striving to grow in His image and likeness. Yet as I read this I am also reminded of the quote of St. Benedict: ‘May the poor forgive your charity to them.” There is much to learn from God’s anawim.

  2. please do not remove me from your list as a member I got an error of pressing the word cancel instead of submit.

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