Where Catholic Volunteers Have to Differ

According to President of Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2001 (Zenit.org).- What unique contribution do Catholic volunteers make?

This was the question addressed by an international symposium organized in the Vatican by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.

The meeting last Friday and Saturday marked the International Year of Volunteers. It gathered experts who focused on the topic «Catholic Volunteers in Health.»

Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the pontifical council, told ZENIT that volunteers are not the monopoly of the Catholic world. There are numerous nongovernmental organizations inspired by other religions or philosophies, he said.

«Volunteer work often begins for philanthropic reasons; however, if it is limited to this, there is a danger that it might become something egotistical,» the archbishop explained.

«The first step that must be taken to remove oneself from this danger is commitment in favor of great values, such as the family, community, development, social justice, peace, the common good,» he said. «Up to this point, Catholic volunteers have many points in common with other NGOs.»

«However, for us Catholics there is no volunteer work without Christ, who is the source of the gift [of self] and Christian charity,» the archbishop said.

This fact is decisive to surmount the «leveling» of the «dominant culture,» he added.

«For example, metaphysical values are considered science fiction,» he said. «Volunteers should surmount this leveling. Catholic volunteers must be noted for their ability to serve Christ in the poor, for the radicalness of their love and mission.»

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