Below is a Zenit translation of Pope Francis’ address to the Catholic Delegation for Cooperation of the Conference of Bishops of France, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation:
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I receive you with joy during the pilgrimage you are fulfilling at Rome on the 50th anniversary of the Delegation Catholique pour la Cooperation. Through you, I give my cordial greeting to all the volunteers on mission in more than 50 countries, as well as to all the persons that, today as yesterday, benefit from their presence and their competence.
As Blessed Paul VI wrote in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio, “development is not reduced to simple economic growth. To be genuine development, it must be integral, which is to say geared to the promotion of every man and of the whole man. […] Global solidarity, ever more efficient, must make it possible for all peoples to become themselves the architects of their destiny” (nn.14 and 65). Such convictions have led the Church in France to create , some 50 years ago now, the Delegation Catholique pour la Cooperation, in fidelity to the great missionary outburst, to which it was able to offer its generous contribution in the course of the centuries. With you I thank the Lord for the work of His Spirit, manifested in the human and spiritual journey of the volunteers and in the work of support of development projects that your Organization made possible. In this way, you serve a genuine cooperation between the local Churches and the people, opposing yourselves to the misery, and working for a more just and more fraternal world.
The word “solidarity” has been somewhat exhausted and at times it is badly interpreted, but it indicates much more than a sporadic act of generosity. It calls for creating a new mentality that thinks in terms of community, of priority in the life of all as regards the appropriation of goods on the part of some” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 188). And it is in fact in this dynamic that the Delegation Catholique pour la Cooperation wished to inscribe its action, realizing a true partnership with the local Churches and actors of the countries to which volunteers are sent, and working in agreement with the civil authorities and all persons of good will. It also contributes to a genuine ecological conversion, which recognizes the eminent dignity of every person, the value proper to him, his creativity and his capacity to seek and promote the common good (cf. Encyclical Laudato Si’, 216-221).
Therefore, I encourage all the members of the Delegation Catholique pour la Cooperation to “make a culture of mercy grow, based on the rediscovery of encounter with others: a culture in which no one looks at the other with indifference or turns his gaze when he sees the suffering of brothers” (Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera, 20). Do not be afraid to go on the ways of fraternity and to build bridges between persons and peoples, in a world in which so many walls are raised out of fear of others. Through your initiatives, your projects and your actions you make visible a poor Church with the poor, an outgoing Church that makes herself close to persons in a state of suffering or precariousness, of marginalization, of exclusion. I encourage you to be at the service of a Church which enables each one to recognize God’s astonishing proximity, His tenderness and His love, and to receive the strength that He gives us in Jesus Christ, His living Word, so that we employ our talents in view of the good of all and of the safeguarding of our common home.
While I ask the Lord to help you to serve the culture of encounter within the one human family, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the members of the Delegation Catholique pour la Cooperation. Thank you.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]