VATICAN CITY, FEB. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- In his first address specifically to permanent deacons, Benedict XVI encouraged them to proclaim the truth with charity, responding in particular to “new forms of poverty.”
The Pope received some 90 permanent deacons of the Diocese of Rome to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the re-establishment of this ministry in this Church, following the decision made by the Second Vatican Council.
In his address Saturday, the Holy Father said: “In these years new forms of poverty have emerged: Many people, in fact, have lost the meaning of life and do not have a truth on which to build their own experience.
“Many young people ask to meet men who are able to listen to them and counsel them on the difficulties of life.”
“Together with material poverty, we are also faced with spiritual and cultural poverty,” the Pope added, thanking the deacons for the work they do in Rome, particularly in the pastoral baptismal and family programs.
Be “deacons of Truth that makes one free, and you will lead the inhabitants of this city to an encounter with Jesus Christ,” he exhorted.
“To welcome the Redeemer in his life is for man a source of profound joy, a joy that can give peace even in times of trial,” Benedict XVI said. “Be, therefore, servants of Truth to take the joy that God wants to give every man.”
Testimony of charity
According to the Bishop of Rome, “It is not enough to proclaim the faith only with words”; it is “necessary to accompany the proclamation of the Gospel with the concrete testimony of charity.”
“The exercise of charity belongs from the beginning to the diaconal ministry,” he clarified, in reference to the first seven deacons, who were chosen, according to the Acts of the Apostles, to serve the neediest.
“There are many poor … who knock on the doors of parish communities to ask for necessary aid to overcome moments of serious difficulty,” he said.
“Welcome these brothers with great cordiality and willingness, and try, in the measure possible, to help them in their needs,” he advised.
In 2004 there were 32,324 permanent deacons in the world, up from only 5,562 in 1978.