Since a resolution was adopted by the General Assembly in 2012, the U.N. has designated September 5 as the International Day of Charity.
“The International Day of Charity was established with the objective of sensitizing and mobilizing people, NGOs, and stakeholders all around the world to to help others through volunteer and philanthropic activities,” states the United Nations’ website. The day was chosen to honor Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who died September 5, 1997.
Mother Teresa, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, spent her life in prayer and in service to the poorest of the poor. The U.N. resolution which designates September 5 as the International Day of Charity calls for member nations “to commemorate the International Day of Charity in an appropriate manner, by encouraging charity, including through education and public awareness-raising activities.”
“Charity, like the notions of volunteerism and philanthropy, provides real social bonding and contributes to the creation of inclusive and more resilient societies,” states the U.N. website. Espousing the importance of charity and its very real impact in society, the U.N. believes that “Charity can alleviate the worst effects of humanitarian crises, supplement public services in health care, education, housing and child protection.” “It also promotes the rights of the marginalized and underprivileged and spreads the message of humanity in conflict situations,” the website attests.
In his recent encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis called for a renewed political order, one transformed by charity. He writes, “Charity, which is the spiritual heart of politics, is always a preferential love shown to those in greatest need; it undergirds everything we do on their behalf.” Approaching themes similar to those intended by the International Day of Charity, Pope Francis insists, “Only a gaze transformed by charity can enable the dignity of others to be recognized and, as a consequence, the poor to be acknowledged and valued in their dignity, respected in their identity and culture, and thus truly integrated into society.”
Following the Angelus on September 5, Pope Francis prayed, “Today is the memorial of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, known to all as Mother Teresa. A big round of applause!” He continued, “I address my greetings to all the Missionaries of Charity, working around the world and offering often heroic service.”