“A human promotion, a genuine liberation of man does not exist without the proclamation of the Gospel,” wrote Pope Francis to the members of the International Association of Charities (AIC), for the 400th anniversary of the network, founded in 1617 by Saint Vincent de Paul at Chatillon, France.
In a message in French, published on March 15, 2017, the Pope encouraged AIC to “contribute a genuine testimony of God’s mercy among the poorest.” It is not only about encountering Christ in the poor, but that the poor perceive Christ in you and in your action,” he added, recommending that they be rooted “in a personal experience of Christ.”
In addition, Pope Francis encouraged AIC to “accompany persons in their totality, giving particular attention to the precarious conditions of life of numerous women and children. To come close to them, he exhorts to “live the mystery of the Incarnation . . . mystery of that God who abased Himself becoming man, who lived among us and died ‘to raise man and save him.’” These are not beautiful words,” he stressed, “it is the realism that we are called to live as Church.”
In his message, the Pontiff invited to follow “the tenderness and compassion of Monsieur Vincent’s heart for the poorest. “He saw the poor as representatives of Jesus Christ, as members of His suffering body. He understood that the poor were also called to build the Church and they, in turn, convert us.” He also recalled the charism of Louise de Marillac, to whom Saint Vincent entrusted the leadership of the Charities: “this fineness and this delicacy of the mercy that never wounds or humiliates anyone but which lifts and gives back courage and hope.”
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