Pope's Prepared Address to Caritas Internationalis

‘Be architects of peace and reconciliation between peoples, between communities and between believers.’

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At 11 o’clock this morning, Pope Francis received in audience the members of the representative council of Caritas Internationalis in the VaticanIn the course of the meeting, the Pope spoke off-the-cuff, answering some questions posed by participants in the audience. While awaiting the transcription of the dialogue with those present, we translate below the text of the address prepared by the Holy Father for the occasion, which was delivered to those present:
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Dear Brothers and Sisters, I greet you all warmly, members of the Representative Council and of the staff of Caritas Internationalis. I am happy to receive you at the end of your institutional meeting and to meet, through you, the entire family of the national Caritas and all those who, in your respective countries, are committed in the service of the Church’s charity. I thank Cardinal Antonio Tagle, your President, for the words with which he introduced this meeting.
The Church “exists to evangelize,” but evangelization requires being adapted to different situations, taking into account family and social life, as well as international life with special attention to peace, justice and development (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 29). At the opening of the Synod on the New Evangelization, Pope Benedict XVI recalled that the two pillars of evangelization are “Confessio et Caritas”; and I myself dedicated a chapter of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium to the social dimension of evangelization, reaffirming the Church’s preferential option for the poor. Therefore, we are called to act against the social exclusion of the weakest and to work for their integration. In fact, our societies are often dominated by the “disposable” culture; they are in need of overcoming indifference and withdrawal into themselves to learn the art of solidarity. Because “we who are strong — says Saint Paul –, ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1).
This makes us understand how fundamental is the mission of the various national Caritas and their specific role in the Church. In fact, they are not social agencies but ecclesial organisms that share in the mission of the Church. As is written in your Statutes, you are called to “assist the Pope and the bishops in their ministry of charity” (Article 1.4). Today’s social urgencies require that, what Saint John Paul II described as, a “new imagination of charity” be put into play (Novo Millenio Ineunte, 50): it is rendered concrete not only in the efficacy of the aid given, but especially in the capacity of making oneself close, accompanying the most disadvantaged with an attitude of fraternal sharing. It is about making charity and justice shine in the world in the light of the Gospel and of the teaching of the Church, involving the poor themselves so that they become the true protagonists of their development.
I thank you so much, on behalf of the Church, for what you do for the least. I encourage you to continue in this mission, which makes the Church feel as a true fellow traveler, close to the heart and to the hopes of the men and women of this world. Continue to take the message of the joy of the Gospel to the whole world, especially to those left behind, but also to those who have the power to change things, because it is possible to change. Poverty, hunger, sickness, oppression are not a fatality and cannot represent permanent situations. Trusting in the strength of the Gospel, we can truly contribute to change things or at least to improve them. We can reaffirm the dignity of those who await a sign of our love and protect and build together “our common home.”
I invite you to have prophetic courage always, to reject everything that humiliates man and every form of exploitation that degrades. Continue to give those small and great signs of hospitality and solidarity that have the capacity to illumine the life of children and elderly, of migrants and refugees in search of peace. I am very happy to learn that Caritas Internationalis, in fact, will carry forward a Campaign on the subject of migrations. I hope that this beautiful initiative will open the hearts of many to receive refugees and migrants, so that they can truly feel “at home” in our communities. May it be your care to support, with renewed commitment, the processes of development and the paths of peace in the countries from which these, our brothers and sisters, flee or leave in search of a better future.
Be architects of peace and reconciliation between peoples, between communities and between believers. Put all your energies, your commitment in the field to work in synergy with other faith communities that, like you, put a person’s dignity at the center of their attention. Fight against poverty and, at the same time, learn from the poor. Let yourselves be inspired and guided by their simple and essential life, by their values, by their sense of solidarity and sharing, by their capacity to overcome difficulties and especially by their lived experience of the suffering Christ, He who is the only Lord and Savior. Learn also, therefore, from their life of prayer and their trust in God.
I hope that, with the support and pastoral attention of the Bishops, you can be increasingly witnesses of a generous ministry of charity, helping the community of believers to be a place of proclamation of the Gospel, of celebration of the Eucharist and of service in joy to the poor.
I invoke the intercession of Mary, our heavenly Mother and, while I ask you to pray for me, I gladly implore the Lord’s blessing upon you and upon those that support you in your work.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

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