On December 25, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI published ""Deus caritas est"" (God Is Love), the first encyclical of his papacy. In Part I of the encyclical, Benedict XVI analyses human and divine love in terms of eros and agape. Presenting love as a fundamental force, Benedict argues that on the Christian, biblical understanding, love is a single reality with many dimensions. He declares to the world that 'the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others' also carries cultural, political, and legal implications, arising from the fact that 'love of God and love of neighbour' are 'inseparable' and form a single commandment. Caritas, the 'practice' of love of neighbour, is the theme of the second part of the encyclical. As Cardinal Cordes explains, 'the encyclical represents the Magna Carta of our work: to orient and to inspire the charitable work of the Catholic Church.' In this volume, Cardinal Cordes has gathered studies and reflections that investigate the meaning of Christian help, comment on the theological, spiritual, and canonical guidelines of ""Deus caritas est"", and illustrate concrete ways to help the needy and, in doing so, experience the goodness of God.
PAUL JOSEF CARDINAL CORDES is president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum (One Heart), the body responsible for Caritas Internationalis and the international aid initiatives of the Catholic Church. A cardinal since 2007, he is the author of a number of works.