Pope Francis' Address to International Voluntary Christian Service Organizations

«You are called to pick up these signs of the times and to become an instrument at the service of the action of the poor.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Here is a translation of the Pope’s address to the members of the International Voluntary Christian Service Organizations (FOCSIV), on the occasion of the International Day of Volunteers.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to meet with you on the occasion of the International Day of Volunteers. I give my cordial greeting and thank the President, who presented your mission, in the present context. Your Federation, which brings together Volunteer Organizations of Christian inspiration, carries out a precious action in the world. It is the image of a Church that girds herself with an apron and bends down to serve brothers in difficulty. In fact, the different realities that make up FOCSIV seek to combine the experiential baggage of its members with the dimension of voluntary service to the poor in the style of the Good Samaritan and in coherence with evangelical values. From your Christian identity, you present yourselves as “volunteers of the world” with numerous development projects, to give concrete answers to the scandals of famine and wars.

I thank you for what you do and for how you do it! Your interventions beside men and women in difficulty are a living proclamation of the tenderness of Christ, who walks with humanity at all times. Continue on this path of witnessing the value of gratuitousness: the poor cannot become an occasion for gain! Poverties today change faces and even some among the poor mature different expectations: they aspire to be protagonists , they organize themselves and, above all, they practice that solidarity that exists among those who suffer, among the least. You are called to pick up these signs of the times and to become an instrument at the service of the action of the poor. Solidarity with the poor is to think and act in terms of community, of the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few. It is also to fight against the structural causes of poverty: inequality, lack of work and of a home, the denial of social and labor rights. Solidarity is a way of making history with the poor, fleeing from alleged altruistic works that reduce the other to passivity.

Among the main causes of poverty is an economic system that plunders nature – I am thinking in particular of deforestation, but also of environmental disasters and the loss of bio-diversity. We must confirm that creation is not property that we can dispose of at will, and even less is it the property of just a few. Creation is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we look after it and use, with respect, for the benefit of all. Therefore, I encourage you to continue in your commitment, so that creation remains a patrimony of all, to be given in all its beauty to the future generations.

Many of the countries in which you work know the scandal of war. By working for the development of peoples, you also cooperate in building peace, seeking with steadfast tenacity to disarm minds, to bring people close to one another, to build bridges between cultures and religions. Faith will help you to do this even in the most difficult countries, where the spiral of violence does not seem to leave room for reasonableness.

A sign of peace and hope is your activity in refugee camps, where you meet desperate people, faces marked by abuse, children hungry for food, liberty and a future. How many people in the world flee from the horrors of war! How many persons are persecuted for their faith, constrained to abandon their homes, their places of worship, their land, their affections! How many shattered lives! How much suffering, how much destruction! In fron of all this, Christ’s disciple does not stand back; he does not turn his face away, but seeks to take charge of this sorrowful humanity, with closeness and evangelical hospitality. I am thinking of migrants and refugees, who seek to leave behind them harsh conditions of life and dangers of all sorts. The collaboration of all is necessary, of institutions, NGOs and ecclesial communities, to promote ways of harmonious coexistence between different persons and cultures. The migratory movements call for appropriate forms of hospitality that do not leave migrants at the mercy of the sea and bands of unscrupulous traffickers. Necessary at the same time is an energetic collaboration between States, to regulate and manage these phenomenons effectively.

Dear brothers and sisters, in over 40 years of life, volunteers have worked in your Federation who have been true witnesses of charity, peacemakers, architects of justice and of solidarity. I encourage you to continue with joy on this path of fidelity to man and to God, putting the person of Jesus ever more at the center. It will help you a lot every day to find the time for a personal encounter with God in prayer: this will be your strength in the most difficult moments of disappointment, of solitude, of incomprehension.

I entrust each of you and the organizations of your Federation to the protection of Mary Most Holy. My Blessing also accompanies you. And you remember to pray for me! Thank you.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation