Volunteers Are Expression of God's Affection for World, Says John Paul II

Analyzes Identity of Christian Volunteer With FOCSIV Members

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says the task of Christian volunteers is to make people experience their selfless dedication as an expression of «the tenderness of the heavenly Father.»

The Pope described the role of Christian volunteers when he met with members of the Federation of Christian Organizations of International Volunteer Service (FOCSIV), which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The Holy Father said that a volunteer, if he is a Christian, «is called, through his selfless dedication to brothers and sisters, to make in a certain sense ‘experimentable’ the providential tenderness of the heavenly Father.»

In fact, love of neighbor «needs to be nourished by the furnace of divine charity,» if it is not to fall prey to reservations or exhaustion, the Pope said Saturday during the audience.

«This implies prolonged moments of prayer, attentive and constant listening to the Word of God and, above all, a life centered on the mystery of the Eucharist,» he added.

The Holy Father encouraged FOCSIV members «to respond to the urgencies of all those who are obliged to live in conditions of difficulty or abandonment.»

During the meeting, the Pontiff was given a letter written on behalf of the thousands of children who are obliged to work, calling for worthy work for minors.

«Baby Jesus is also a working child like us, the son of a carpenter,» the children wrote in the letter.

FOCSIV embraces 56 non-governmental organizations present in 79 countries. It boasts 66,000 volunteers who head 542 development projects.

The federation started with the support of Pope Paul VI in 1972, when some lay people committed themselves to aid developing countries.

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