The many dimensions of the kingdom of God (Cf. International Theological Commission, Select Themes of Ecclesiology on the Occasion of the Twentieth Anniversary of the Closing of the Second Vatican Council (October 7, 1985), 10: “The Eschatological Character of the Church: Kingdom and Church.”) do not weaken the foundations and purposes of missionary activity, but rather strengthen and extend them.
Vatican II suggested the same, that a multivalent approach is attractive, catching various fish by various means.
The Church is the sacrament of salvation for all (humankind), and her activity is not limited only to those who accept her message. She is a dynamic force in (the) journey toward the eschatological kingdom, and is the sign and promoter of gospel values.(Cf. Gaudium et Spes 39) The Church contributes to (the human) pilgrimage of conversion to God’s plan through her witness and through such activities as dialogue, human promotion, commitment to justice and peace, education and the care of the sick, and aid to the poor and to children. In carrying on these activities, however, she never loses sight of the priority of the transcendent and spiritual realities which are premises of eschatological salvation.
The danger recently expressed by Pope Francis is that the Church or its entities become like NGO’s. On the other hand, he has elevated the role of those charged with dispensing church funds for charity. Other Catholics are concerned about imbalances between justice and charity. Too much focus on charity can be self-sustaining in the sense that ignoring justice issues just perpetuates situations in which needy people must have that outreach for assistance. I don’t think we’ll ever see the day in this world where needs fade because justice concerns have all been addressed. But we do need that “commitment to justice and peace.”
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