Papal Address to Italian Charity Circolo San Pietro

«Continue to Be a Concrete Sign of the Pope’s Charity»

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving in audience a delegation representing the Circolo San Pietro (Circle of St. Peter), an Italian charity founded in 1869.

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Dear Members of the Circolo San Pietro!

I am delighted to welcome you on the occasion of this pleasant meeting, which offers me the opportunity to renew my recognition of your generous work in service to the Holy See.

This meeting takes place just a short time before the liturgical solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul and permits us, in a certain way, a foretaste of the joy of such an observance that is so meaningful for your worthy society and for the whole Church. I greet all of you with affection, beginning with your president, Duke Leopoldo Torlonia, whom I thank for the kind words that he has addressed to me on behalf of everyone, and with your spiritual director.

A short while ago we concluded the Year for Priests, a time of grace during which the Church reflected with special attention on the figure of St. John Marie Vianney, the holy Curé d’Ars, observing the 150th anniversary of his death. He is a model of evangelical life not only for priests, but for lay people, especially for those who work, as you do, in the vast field of charity. A peculiar aspect of the life of this humble priest was, in fact, his detachment from material goods. He did not own anything, he gave everything away to the most needy; it did not feel the necessity of having anything for himself: He considered everything superfluous. He learned the love of the poor as a boy, seeing how they were welcomed and helped by his parents at home. This love led him, in the course of his priestly life, to give away everything he had. He also founded a home that he called “Providence” for poor children and girls: he dedicated every effort to them so that they would receive a healthy Christian education.

May his example constitute for you, dear members of the Circolo San Pietro, a constant invitation to open your arms to every person who has need of a tangible sign of solidarity. Continue to be a concrete sign of the Pope’s charity to whomever finds themselves in need, whether materially or spiritually, and to the pilgrims who come to Rome from every part of the world to visit the tombs of the Apostles and to meet the Successor of Peter.

As was noted a moment ago, you have come here to present the Peter’s Pence that has been collected from the churches of Rome. I would like to express my lively gratitude for this attestation of participation in my solicitude for persons most in need. It represents a point of convergence between two complementary actions, that are linked in a single eloquent testimony of evangelical charity, since, on the one hand, it manifests the affection of the inhabitants of this city and of pilgrims for the Successor of Peter and, on the other hand, it expresses the concrete solidarity of the Holy See with so many situations of hardship and poverty that, unfortunately, remain in Rome and in many other parts of the world. Bringing together the Roman parishes and running aid and hospitality centers in the capital, you have the possibility of directly experiencing the many situations of poverty that are still present; at the same time, you can also witness how intense is people’s desire to know Christ and to love in our brothers.
Through this work of yours to meet the needs of the less fortunate, you spread a message of hope, that flows from faith and adhesion to the Lord, thus making you heralds of his Gospel. Charity and witness, then, continue to be the guiding lines of your apostolate. I encourage you to continue in this action of yours with joy, taking inspiration from unfailing Christian principles and always drawing new strength from prayer and the spirit of sacrifice — as your motto says — to bear copious fruit in both the Christian community and civil society.

I entrust your aspirations, plans and all your activities to the maternal protection of the Holy Virgin, “Salus Populi Romani,” that she might guide your steps, making you ever more convinced workers of solidarity and builders of peace in all the spheres where the worthy action of your association is carried out. With these vows, I invoke the heavenly intercession of Saints Peter and Paul and gladly impart to each of you, to your families and those you meet in your daily service a special Apostolic Benediction.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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